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j    LIBRARY^) 

UNIVERSITY  OF 
CALIFORNIA 

SAN  D/EGn 


IF    THE     GERMANS    CONQUERED 
ENGLAND,    AND    OTHER    ESSAYS 


Printed  by  George  Robert*,  Dublin 


IFTHE  GERMANS 

CONQUERED  ENGLAND 
AND  OTHER  ESSAYS 
BY  ROBERT  LYND 


MAUNSEL    AND    COMPANY    LTD. 
DUBLIN     AND     LONDON.     1917 


TO 

ALICE    STOPFORD    GREEN 

THE  MOST  ILLUSTRIOUS  IRISHWOMAN  OF  HER  TIME 

A    LAMP    OF    LEARNING    TO    HER    PEOPLE 

OF    KINDNESS    TO    HER    FRIENDS 


Vll 


PREFATORY  NOTE 

Some  people  will  remember  that,  at  the  outbreak 
of  the  insurrection  in  Dublin  in  Easter  Week,  1916, 
the  insurgents  issued  a  little  paper  called  Irish  War 
News.  The  first  page  opened  with  an  article  entitled : 
"If  the  Germans  Conquered  England,"  which  was 
based  upon,  and  was  more  or  less  a  quotation  and 
endorsement  of,  the  first  essay  in  the  present  book. 
Thus  the  essay,  if  it  has  no  other  interest,  is,  at  least* 
of  interest  in  the  use  to  which  it  was  put  on  an 
historic  occasion. 

By  a  curious  chance,  on  its  appearance  in  The 
New  Statesman,  certain  English  Tories,  as  well  as 
Irish  Nationalists,  discovered  in  it  a  reasonable 
statement  of  the  principles  of  patriotism.  One 
Tory  professor  read  it  out  approvingly  to  a  class  of 
young  officers,  in  order  to  bring  home  to  them  the 
things  England  is  fighting  for  in  the  present  war. 
This  is  not  quite  so  astonishing  as  at  first  appears. 
The  Irish  national  cause  is  the  cause  of  every  nation 
— England  included — which  is  fighting  against 
tyranny.  Ireland  does  not  demand  any  kind  of 
liberty  which  she  does  not  wish  to  see  England, 
France,  Belgium,  Poland,  and  all  the  other  nations 
enjoying  in  equal  measure.  She  desires  to  be 
neither  a  slave-owner  nor  a  slave  among  the  nations. 
Ireland,  in  her  struggle  against  English  Imperialism, 
is  the  close  counterpart  of  England  and  (closer  still) 

ix 


PREFATORY   NOTE 

Belgium  in  their  struggle  against  German  Imperial- 
ism. Germany,  if  she  conquered  England,  could  do 
no  wrong  that  has  not  been  done  or  is  not  even  now 
being  done  by  England  in  Ireland.  The  chief 
horror  of  conquest  does  not  consist  in  atrocities:  it 
consists  in  being  conquered. 

The  Allies,  in  fighting  against  Germany,  seem  to 
me  to  be  fighting  against  the  principle  and  practice 
of  conquest.  There  are,  no  doubt,  forces  of  evil 
fighting  on  the  side  of  the  Allies  as  well  as  on  the 
side  of  Germany.  The  Morning  Post  is  red  in 
tooth  and  claw  in  1917  as  it  was  in  1913,  and  the 
Spectator  is  still  in  its  Irish  attitude  as  expert  as 
ever  in  making  the  worse  appear  the  better  cause 
in  a  way  that  appeals  to  clergymen.  But  even  the 
Morning  Post  and  the  Spectator,  whether  they  like  it 
or  not,  are  fighting  for  the  same  kind  of  liberty  for 
which  Irishmen  are  fighting.  They  cannot  be  hos- 
tile to  the  invaders  of  Serbia  and  the  invaders  of 
Belgium  without  acquiescing  in  principles  of  liberty 
which  are  applicable  to  every  community  of  civilized 
men.  When  the  Central  Powers  began  the  war 
with  an  attack  on  two  small  nations,  they  declared 
war  on  Nationalism  all  the  world  over.  When  the 
Allies  took  up  the  cause  of  those  two  small  nations 
— whether  from  interested  or  disinterested  motives 
makes  no  difference — they  began  what  I  believe 
will  prove  to  be  a  war  against  Imperialism  all  the 
world  over.  The  United  States  of  the  World  in 
which  all  the  empires  will  disappear,  and  all  the 
nations,  great  and  small,  will  live  on  terms  of  liberty, 
equality,  and  fraternity,  is  now,  at  least,  within  the 
scope  of  the  prophet,  if  not  of  the  practical  politician. 


PREFATORY    NOTE 

The  peace  of  the  world,  indeed,  is  possible  only  as  a 
result  of  some  such  reconciliation  of  the  nationalist 
and  internationalist  ideals  of  the  human  race. 

Practically  all  the  essays  in  this  book  have 
appeared  in  the  New  Statesman,  which  must  not, 
however,  be  regarded  as  necessarily  acquiescing  in 
the  opinions  I  have  expressed.  The  sketch  of 
T.  M.  Kettle  appeared  in  the  Daily  News,  and  that 
of  Sheehy-Skeffington  in  the  Ploughshare.  The 
essay,  "On  Nationalism  and  Nationality''  was 
written  as  a  preface  to  a  report  of  the  Nationalities 
and  Subject  Races  Conference  as  long  ago  as  1910. 

ROBERT  LYND 
June  1917 


XI 


CONTENTS 

Page 

IF  THE  GERMANS  CONQUERED  ENGLAND  I 

THE  DARKNESS  9 

REVENGE  15 

THE  ASS  22 

FAREWELL  TO  TREATING  28 

REFUGEES  3± 

COWARD  CONSCIENCE  40 

ON  DOING  NOTHING  47 

RUTHLESSNESS  53 

MYTHS  60 

COURAGE  68 

THRICE  IS  HE  ARMED    ...  74 

THIS  LUXURIOUS  EARTH  80 

ON  SAVING  MONEY  86 

PEACE  ON  EARTH  Q2 

GRUB  98 

ON  TAKING  A  WALK  IN   LONDON  104 

WHITE  CITIZENS  IIO 

ON  BEING  A  WORKING  MAN  Il8 

THE  BUSINESS  MAN  124 

HORRORS  OF  WAR  130 

T.  M.  KETTLE  137 

FRANCIS  SHEEHY-SKEFFINGTON  14! 

NATIONALITY  147 

THE  SPIRIT  OF  MAN  153 

xiii 


IF  THE  GERMANS  CONQUERED 
ENGLAND 

When  a  small  tradesman  applies  for  exemption 
from  military  service  on  the  ground  that  his  business 
would  be  ruined  by  his  absence,  a  question  that  is 
often  put  to  him  is:  "What  do  you  think  will  happen 
to  your  business  if  the  Germans  win  the  war  ?  "  As 
a  rule  the  tradesman  does  not  know  what  to  think. 
He  has  no  means  of  measuring  world-catastrophes. 
He  has  not  Dr.  Johnson's  short  way  with  questions 
to  whichvthere  is  no  answer.  In  the  first  place,  the 
small  tradesman  does  not  believe  in  the  possibility 
of  a  German  victory.  In  the  second  place,  he  has 
not  the  slightest  idea  'what  would  happen  to  his 
business  as  the  result  of  one.  Perhaps,  however,  he 
knows  as  much  about  the  matter  as  the  members  of 
the  tribunals.  All  of  us  know  that  a  German  victory 
which  involved  the  conquest  of  England  would  make 
life  intolerable  for  Englishmen  until  the  conquest 
was  undone.  But  as  to  its  effect  on  small  businesses, 
that  is  another  matter.  It  is  quite  possible  that  the 
little  grocery,  the  little  tobacco-shop,  and  the  con- 
fectioner's would  be  able  to  hold  up  their  heads 
under  German  rule  as  under  English.  The  valid 
argument  against  a  German  conquest  is  not  that  it 
would  make  an  end  of  the  small  business  man ;  it 
is  that  it  would  make  an  end  of  a  free  England. 
If  it  could  be  proved  that  a  German  conquest 
would  add  twenty-five  per  cent,  to  the  incomes  of 
all  Englishmen,  even  that  would  not  make  it  toler- 
able. Most  men  in  all  nations  are  ready  to  sacrifice 
their  lives  in  order  that  their  country  may  be  free. 


IF  THE  GERMANS 

They  are  also — though  this  is  apparently  much  more 
difficult — ready  to  sacrifice  their  fortunes. 

Consider  for  a  moment  the  possibility  that  England 
might  actually  grow  richer  under  German  rule.  It 
is  very  unlikely,  because  England  is  already  a  highly- 
developed  country,  but  consider  the  one  chance  in  a 
hundred  million.  We  know  that,  so  far  as  material 
wealth  is  concerned,  Prussian  Poland  has  gone 
forward,  not  backward,  under  Prussia.  Mr.  W.  H. 
Dawson,  author  of  The  Evolution  of  Modern  Germany, 
is  a  witness  whose  evidence  on  this  point  cannot  be 
lightly  dismissed.  Referring  to  the  work  of  the 
Settlement  Board  in  Prussian  Poland,  he  writes : 
"  If  the  purpose  had  simply  been  the  economic  re- 
awakening of  the  Polish  East  there  would  be  much 
to  praise  and  to  admire  in  the  results  that  have  been 
achieved,  for  the  settled  districts  have  been  entirely 
transformed  and  raised  to  a  level  of  prosperity  never 
known  before."  There  are  men  with  a  passion  for 
efficiency  to  whom  such  a  record  of  material 
progress  appeals  as  a  justification  of  any  kind  of 
tyranny.  We  had  an  example  of  this  spirit  some 
time  ago  in  the  boasts  of  some  German  newspapers 
that  under  German  rule  the  industries  of  Belgium 
were  already  reviving,  and  that  Belgian  prosperity 
would  soon  be  on  a  sounder  basis  than  ever.  One 
may  be  sure  that  in  the  conquered  territories,  even 
in  these  days  of  martial  law  and  high  prices, 
thousands  of  little  businesses  in  Belgium  are  as- 
tonishingly alive.  Lawyers  still  practise  in  the 
law-courts,  doctors  attend  the  sick,  priests  go  on 
preaching,  shops  are  open,  factories  are  working, 
fields  are  cultivated.  This,  of  course,  is  not  uni- 
versally true ;  and,  while  the  country  remains  a 
battlefield,  it  can  only  be  true  of  certain  parts  of  it. 
But  it  is  clear  enough  that,  whatever  other  evils 
would  follow  the  permanent  conquest  of  Belgium,  the 
refusal  to  allow  the  average  Belgian  to  make  a  living 


CONQUERED  ENGLAND 

would  not  necessarily  be  one  of  them.  It  is  not  for 
the  right  to  make  a  living,  it  is  for  the  right  to  live 
their  own  national  life,  that  the  Belgians  are  fighting. 
Like  Wordsworth's  Englishmen,  they  "  must  be  free 
or  die."  That  is  not  mere  uneconomic  rhetoric. 
Freedom  is  a  form  of  wealth  which  brave  nations 
prize  above  gold  and  silver.  Professor  Kettle 
horrified  some  of  the  followers  of  Sir  Edward 
Carson  during  the  Home  Rule  controversy  when 
he  declared  that  he  put  freedom  before  finance.  In 
ninety-nine  cases  out  of  a  hundred,  I  admit,  freedom 
and  sound  finance,  so  far  from  being  antitheses,  are 
complementary  to  each  other.  But,  even  though 
they  were  not,  Professor  Kettle's  attitude  would 
be  the  right  one.  The  man  who  would  prefer 
finance  to  freedom  ought  also,  in  order  to  be  con- 
sistent, to  prefer  finance  to  honour  and  justice,  and 
all  those  other  noble  abstractions,  belief  in  which 
differentiates  good  Europeans  from  wild  animals. 

Suppose,  for  the  sake  of  argument,  that  Germany 
triumphed  so  overwhelmingly — an  extremely  un- 
likely supposition,  I  agree — that  she  was  able  to 
incorporate  England  in  the  German  Empire,  and 
suppose  that  she  was  resolved  to  purchase  the 
acquiescence  of  Englishmen  in  German  rule  by 
developing  English  industries  and  English  arts 
as  they  had  never  been  developed  before,  would  the 
spirit  of  England  yield  to  the  bribe  ?  One  can 
imagine  how  Germany,  with  the  hope  of  this  in  her 
mind,  would  set  out  with  all  her  efficiency  to 
reorganize  the  railways  and  the  canals,  and  so  give 
an  unwonted  elasticity  to  the  industrial  life  of  the 
country.  One  can  imagine  how  she  would  set 
about  the  work  of  town-phmning  and  street-sweep- 
ing. One  can  imagine  how  she  would  build 
technical  schools,  art  schools,  and  musical  academies 
and  opera  houses.  One  can  imagine  how  she 
would  build  the  long-lost  Shakespeare  Memorial 


IF  THE  GERMANS 

Theatre.  But  even  though  the  English  farmer 
found  himself  with  a  freer  access  to  markets  and 
the  English  manufacturer  found  himself  with  a 
kingdom  of  chemists  and  inventors  at  his  disposal, 
the  country  would  still  have  something  to  complain 
about.  In  the  first  place,  it  would  be  constantly 
irritated  by  the  lofty  moral  utterances  of  German 
statesmen  who  would  assert — quite  sincerely,  no 
doubt — that  England  was  free,  freer  indeed  than 
she  had  ever  been  before.  Prussian  freedom,  they 
would  explain,  was  the  only  real  freedom,  and 
therefore,  England  was  free.  They  would  point  to 
the  flourishing  railways  and  farms  and  colleges. 
They  would  possibly  point  to  the  contingent  of 
M.P.'s  which  was  permitted,  in  spite  of  its  deplor- 
able disorderliness,  to  sit  in  a  permanent  minority 
in  the  Reichstag.  And  not  only  would  the  English- 
man have  to  listen  to  a  constant  flow  of  speeches 
of  this  sort ;  he  would  find  a  respectable  official 
Press  secretly  bought  by  the  Government  to  say 
the  same  kind  of  things  over  and  over  every  day 
of  the  week.  He  would  find,  too,  that  his  children 
were  coming  home  from  school  with  new  ideas  of 
history.  They  would  be  better  drilled,  more  obe- 
dient than  he  himself  used  to  be  in  his  schooldays, 
but  he  would  get  angry  when  he  heard  what  was 
taught  to  them  as  history.  They  would  ask  him 
if  it  was  really  true  that  until  the  Germans  came 
England  had  been  an  unruly  country  constantly 
engaged  in  civil  war,  as  in  the  days  of  the  Wars  of 
the  Roses,  Cromwell,  William  III.,  the  Young 
Pretender,  and  Sir  Edward  Carson — a  country 
one  of  whose  historians  actually  glorified  a  king 
who  had  beheaded  his  wives,  and  one  of  whose 
kings  was  afterwards  beheaded  ;  a  country  which 
sold  its  own  subjects  into  slavery;  a  country  which 
was  given  its  Empire  by  Frederick  the  Great,  and 
which  then  deserted  him  ;  a  country  which  gave 


CONQUERED   ENGLAND 

birth  to  Shakespeare,  but  could  not  appreciate  him ; 
a  country  which  had  won  its  way  in  the  world  by 
good  luck  and  treachery,  not  by  honesty  and  in- 
telligence. One  can  guess  how  the  blackening 
process  would  go  on.  It  would  be  done  for  the 
most  part  by  reasonable-looking  insinuation.  The 
object  of  every  schoolbook  would  be  to  make  the 
English  child  grow  up  with  the  feeling  that  the 
history  of  his  country  was  a  thing  to  forget,  and 
that  the  one  bright  spot  in  it  was  that  it  had  been 
conquered  by  cultured  Germany. 

And  in  every  University  the  same  kind  of  thing 
would  be  going  on.  Behind  round  spectacles 
generation  after  generation  of  Prussian  professors 
would  lecture  on  the  history  of  the  German  Empire 
(including,  as  one  of  its  less  important  aspects,  the 
history  of  England).  They  would  teach  young 
Englishmen  that  Luther,  and  Frederick,  and  Stein, 
and  Goethe,  and  List,  and  Bismarck  were  the 
founders  of  civilisation.  They  would  possibly  add 
the  suggestion  of  Houston  Chamberlain  that  Christ 
and  St.  Paul  and  Dante  were  part  of  the  German 
tradition.  They  would  begin  to  spell  Shakespeare 
with  an  "  Sch."  They  would  probably  explain 
that  Shakespeare  in  German  was  superior  to 
Shakespeare  in  English.  Like  Houston  Chamber- 
lain, they  would  believe  in  "  the  holy  German 
language"  as  they  believe  in  God.  They  would 
say  it  was  a  better  language  than  English  because 
it  was  inflected.  They  would  set  on  foot  a  move- 
ment to  substitute  it  for  English  in  the  schools 
and  colleges,  in  order  to  prevent  English  children 
from  growing  up  insular  and  cut  off  from  the 
world-civilisation.  Gradually  it  would  become  an 
offence  to  use  English  as  the  language  of  in- 
struction. In  another  generation  it  would  become 
an  offence  to  use  it  at  all.  If  there  was  a  revolt — 
and,  by  the  dog,  as  Socrates  used  to  say,  there 

5 


IF   THE  GERMANS 

would  be  ! — German  statesmen  would  deliver  grave 
speeches  about  "  disloyalty,"  "  ingratitude,"  "  reck- 
less agitators  who  would  ruin  their  country's 
prosperity."  Prussian  officials  would  walk  up  and 
down  every  town  and  every  village  in  the  country, 
the  embodiment  of  this  grave  concern  for  the 
welfare  of  England.  Prussian  soldiers  would  be 
encamped  in  every  barracks — the  English  conscripts 
having  been  sent  out  of  the  country  either  to  be 
trained  in  Germany  or  to  fight  the  Chinese — in 
order  to  come  to  the  aid  of  German  rectitude, 
should  English  sedition  come  to  blows  with  it. 

Thus,  if  England  could  only  be  got  to  submit,  would 
she  be  gradually  warped.  She  would  be  exhorted 
to  abandon  her  own  genius  in  order  to  imitate  the 
genius  of  her  conquerors,  to  forget  her  own  history 
for  a  larger  history,  to  give  up  her  own  language 
for  a  "  universal "  language — in  other  words,  to 
destroy  her  household  gods  one  by  one,  and  to  put 
in  their  place  alien  gods.  Such  an  England  would 
be  an  England  without  a  soul,  without  even  a 
mind.  She  would  be  a  nation  of  slaves,  even  though 
every  slave  in  the  country  had  a  chicken  in  his 
pot  and  a  golden  dish  to  serve  it  on.  No  amount 
of  prosperity  could  make  up  for  the  degradation 
of  living  perpetually  under  the  heel  of  the  Prussian 
policeman  and  under  the  eye  of  the  Prussian 
professor.  Even  the  man  who  kept  a  small 
sweet-shop  would  feel  queer  stirrings  of  rage 
within  him,  however  prosperous  he  was,  how- 
ever clean  the  streets  were  swept,  as  he  saw  his 
policeman-conqueror  tramping  majestically  past 
his  door.  He  would  feel  as  if  he  were  in  the 
grip  of  some  monstrous  machine.  He  would 
tell  himself  that  law  and  order  was  a  good  thing 
but  not  at  this  price.  To  live  among  all  those 
pompous  foreign  officials  would  be  worse  than 
being  in  prison.  There  would  be  a  fire  in  his  head 

6 


CONQUERED  ENGLAND 

till  he  met  another  man  with  a  fire  in  his  head,  and 
together  they  would  form  a  secret  society  and  look 
forward  to  the  great  day  of  rebellion. 

It  is  against  this  spiritual  conquest  of  England 
rather  than  against  the  threat  of  bankrupt  busi- 
nesses that  Englishmen  will  fight  with  the  fiercest 
inspiration.  The  real  case  against  Germany  is 
not  so  much  that  a  German  conquest  would 
make  England  bankrupt,  as  that  it  would  make 
England  no  longer  England.  Englishmen  would 
shrink  from  German  rule  at  its  best  no  less  than 
from  German  rule  at  its  most  atrocious.  They 
would  spurn  Germany  as  a  conqueror  bringing 
gifts  equally  with  Germany  as  a  conqueror  bringing 
poverty  and  destruction.  Wordsworth,  in  a  similar 
mood,  has  expressed  the  feelings  of  a  "  high-minded 
Spaniard "  when  in  1810  Napoleon  held  out  to 
Spain  the  hope  of  peace  and  prosperity  under  his 
sway: 

"  We  can  endure  that  he  should  waste  our  lands, 
Despoil  our  temples,  and  by  sword  and  flame 
Return  us  to  the  dust  from  which  we  came ; 
Such  food  a  tyrant's  appetite  demands : 
And  we  can  brook  the  thought  that  by  his  hands 
Spain  may  be  overpowered,  and  he  possess 
For  his  delight  a  solemn  wilderness 
Where  all  the  brave  lie  dead.     But  when  of  bands 
Which  he  will  break  for  us  he  dares  to  speak, 
Of  benefits  and  of  a  future  day, 
When  our  enlightened  minds  shall  bless  bis  sway ; 
Then,  the  strained  heart  of  fortitude  proves  weak ; 
Our  groans,  our  blushes,  our  pale  cheeks  declare, 
That  he  has  power  to  inflict  what  we  lack  strength 
to  bear." 

That  is  not  one  of  Wordsworth's  greatest  sonnets, 
but  it  expresses  well  enough  the  passion  which 

7 


IF  THE  GERMANS  CONQUERED  ENGLAND 

Belgium  must  feel  at  the  present  moment,  when 
the  Germans  are  trying  to  get  them  to  look  forward 
to  an  era  of  benefactions  under  German  rule.  It 
expresses,  too,  the  passion  which  Englishmen  would 
feel  in  the  same  circumstances.  No  man  with 
the  slightest  glimmer  of  patriotism  would  consent 
to  see  his  country  made  a  nation  of  millionaires  at 
the  price  of  being  a  nation  of  slaves. 


THE  DARKNESS 

It  was  common  enough  during  the  first  year  of  the 
war  to  meet  people  who  took  an  aesthetic  pleasure 
in  the  darkness  of  the  streets  at  night.  It  gave  them 
un  nouveau  frisson.  They  said  that  never  had  London 
been  so  beautiful.  It  was  hardly  a  gracious  thing 
to  say  about  London.  And  it  was  not  entirely  true. 
The  hill  of  Piccadilly  has  always  been  beautiful,  with 
its  lamps  suspended  above  it  like  strange  fruits. 
The  Thames  between  Westminster  Bridge  and 
Blackfriars  has  always  been  beautiful  at  night,  pour- 
ing its  brown  waters  along  in  a  dusk  of  light  and 
shadow.  And  have  we  not  always  had  Hyde  Park 
like  a  little  dark  forest  full  of  lamps,  with  the  gold  of 
the  lamps  shaken  into  long  Chinese  alphabets  in  the 
windy  waters  of  the  Serpentine  ?  There  was  Chel- 
sea, too.  Surely,  even  before  the  war,  Chelsea  by 
night  lay  in  darkness  like  a  town  forgotten  and 
derelict  in  the  snug  gloom  of  an  earlier  century. 
And,  if  Chelsea  was  pitchy,  St.  George's-in-the-East 
and  London  of  the  docks  were  pitchier.  There  we 
seemed  already  to  be  living  underground.  The  very 
lamps,  yellow  as  a  hag's  skin  with  snuff  in  every 
wrinkle,  seemed  scarcely  to  give  enough  light  to 
enable  one  to  see  the  world  of  rags  and  blackness 
which  one  was  visiting  like  a  stranger  from  another 
planet.  One  finds  it  so  difficult  to  conjure  up  the 
appearance  of  London  in  the  time  before  the  war 
that  one  may  be  exaggerating.  But,  so  far  as 
one  can  remember,  night  in  London  was  even 
then  something  of  an  enchantress  and  London 
the  land  of  an  enchantress.  Her  palace-lights,  her 
dungeon  darkness,  her  snoring  suburbs  tucked  away 


THE  DARKNESS 

into  bed  after  a  surfeit  of  the  piano  and  the  gramo- 
phone— here,  even  in  days  of  peace,  was  an  infinite 
variety  of  spectacle.  Not  that  I  will  pretend  that 
the  suburbs  were  ever  beautiful.  They  are  more 
depressing  than  a  heap  of  old  tins,  than  a  field  of 
bricks,  than  slob-lands,  than  vineyards  in  early 
summer.  They  are  more  commonplace  than  the 
misuse  of  the  word  "  phenomenal  "  or  the  jargon  of 
house-agents.  They  do  not  possess  enough  character 
even  to  be  called  ugly.  They  are  the  expression  in 
brick  of  the  sin  of  the  Laodiceans.  Neither  the  light 
of  peace  nor  the  Tartarus  of  war  can  awaken  them 
out  of  their  bad  prose.  One  thinks  of  them  as  the 
commodious  slave-quarters  of  modern  civilization. 
The  human  race  has  yet  to  learn,  or  to  re-learn,  how 
to  build  suburbs.  It  is  a  proof  of  our  immorality 
that  we  cannot  do  so.  Well,  the  darkness  has  at 
least  hidden  the  face  of  the  suburbs.  It  has  changed 
long  rows  of  houses  into  little  cottages,  and  monot- 
onous avenues  into  country  lanes  down  which 
cautious  figures  make  their  way  with  torches. 
Sometimes  in  these  circumstances,  the  dullest  street 
becomes  like  a  parade  of  will-o'-the-wisps.  The 
post-girl  alone,  with  her  larger  lamp,  is  impressive 
as  a  motorcar  or  a  policeman.  She  steps  with  the 
self-assurance  of  an  institution  past  the  images  of 
lost  souls  looking  for  Paradise  by  candlelight.  .  .  . 
Certainly,  the  first  searchlight  that  waved  above 
London  like  a  sword  was  wonderful.  That  made 
the  darkness — and  Charing  Cross — beautiful.  The 
lovers  of  darkness  were  right  when  they  praised 
searchlights.  Probably  the  first  of  them  was  but  a 
tiny  affair  compared  to  those  that  now  lie  thick  as 
post-offices  between  the  hills  of  north  and  south 
London ;  but  it  impressed  the  imagination  as  an 
adventurer  among  the  stars.  One  would  not  have 
been  unduly  surprised  if  one  had  caught  sight  of 
the  prince  of  the  powers  of  the  air  making  his  way 

10 


THE  DARKNESS 

on  black  wings  from  star  to  star  at  the  end  of  its 
long  beam.  Later  on,  London  sent  forth  a  hundred 
such  lights.  She  spent  her  evenings  like  a  mathe- 
matician drawing  weird  geometrical  figures  on  the 
darkness.  She  became  the  greatest  of  the  Futurists, 
all  cubes  and  angles.  Sometimes  she  seemed  like 
a  crab  lying  on  its  back  and  waving  a  multitude  of 
inevitable  pincers.  Sometimes  she  seemed  to  be 
fishing  in  the  sky  with  an  immense  drag-net  of 
light.  Sometimes,  on  misty-moisty  nights,  the 
searchlights  lit  up  the  sluggish  clouds  with 
smudges  of  gold.  It  was  like  a  decoration  of  water- 
lilies  on  long  stems  of  light.  On  nights  on  which 
a  Zeppelin  raid  was  in  progress  one  has  seen  the 
the  distant  sky  filled,  as  it  were,  with  lilies,  east 
and  west,  north  and  south.  And,  for  many  people, 
the  Zeppelins  themselves  seemed  to  have  beautified 
the  night.  For  my  part,  I  confess  I  cannot  regard 
the  Zeppelin  without  prejudice  as  a  spectacle.  That 
it  is  beautiful  as  a  silver  fish,  as  the  lights  play  on 
it,  I  will  not  deny.  Nor  can  one  remain  unmoved 
by  the  sight  as  shells  burst  about  it  with  little 
sputters,  like  fireworks  on  a  wet  night.  But,  even 
as  a  pyrotechnic  display,  the  Zeppelin  raid  has,  in 
my  opinion,  been  overestimated.  They  could  do 
better  at  the  Crystal  Palace.  As  soon  as  the  first 
novelty  of  the  Zeppelins  had  worn  off,  it  was  their 
beastliness  rather  than  their  beauty  that  impressed 
itself  upon  those  with  the  most  persistent  passion 
for  sight-seeing.  Even  the  sight  of  a  Zeppelin  in 
flames,  awe-inspiring  though  it  was,  soon  ceased  to 
be  a  novelty  calling  for  superlatives.  All  the  same, 
London  of  the  searchlights  and  the  Zeppelins  will 
not  be  forgotten  in  sixty  years.  Men  and  women 
now  living  will  relate  to  their  grandchildren  how  they 
saw  a  ship  in  the  sky  in  a  tangle  of  gold  lights,  and 
how  the  ship  was  then  swallowed  up  in  darkness, 
and  how,  after  a  space  of  darkness  and  echoes,  the 

ii 


THE  DARKNESS 

sky  suddenly  purpled  into  a  false  dawn  and  opened 
into  a  rose  of  light.  Then,  hung  in  the  air  for  a 
moment,  was  a  little  ball  of  flame,  and  then  the 
darkness  again,  and  only  a  broken  rope  of  gold 
hurriedly  dropped  down  the  sky  to  announce  the 
ultimate  horror  of  disaster.  Those  who  had  a 
nearer  view  of  the  affair  will  have  their  own  variant 
of  the  story.  They,  too,  will  tell  how  the  sky 
was  suddenly  flooded  with  monstrous  tides  of  light 
at  midnight,  and  how  the  wonders  of  morning  and 
sunset  were  mingled,  and  how  the  sunset  began  to 
move  towards  them  with  its  red  eye,  with  its  red 
mouth,  a  vast  furnace-ship,  an  enemy  of  the  world, 
increasing,  lengthening,  a  doom  impending,  till  once 
more  darkness  and  foolish  cheers,  and  laughter  and 
anecdotes  in  the  streets.  Assuredly,  the  darkness 
of  London  has  had  its  interesting  moments.  .  .  . 
One  has  to  admit  the  attractions  even  of  the 
common  darkness  of  the  streets.  Perhaps  it  has 
become,  from  an  aesthetic  point  of  view,  excessive  in 
recent  months,  and,  except  on  moonlight  nights,  we 
have  too  much  the  air  of  shadowy  creatures  of  the 
Brocken  as  we  make  our  way  about  in  the  dimness. 
The  tram  that  used  to  sail  along  like  a  ship  with  all 
its  lights  burning  was  certainly  a  prettier  thing  to 
see  than  the  dismal  'bus  of  these  days,  packed  like 
a  doss-house,  charging  into  obscurity.  A  long  line 
of  taxicabs  can  still  give  a  street  in  a  busy  hour  the 
appearance  of  a  stream  of  stars,  and  on  a  wet  even- 
ing even  a  procession  of  vans  with  their  red  lights 
reflected  in  the  pavement  can  impart  to  the  com- 
monest road  the  magic  of  a  Venetian  canal.  But 
the  darkness  is  by  no  means  so  beautiful  now  as  it 
was  when  a  few  windows  were  still  left  lighted.  At 
the  time  of  the  first  lighting  regulations,  we  were 
given  a  subdued  light  instead  of  a  glare.  Build- 
ings with  every  feature  a  misunderstanding  revealed 
themselves  as  impressive  masses ;  illuminated  adver- 

12 


THE  DARKNESS 

tisements  disappeared;  and  we  could  still  see  to 
read  the  evening  papec  in  a  'bus,  so  that  we  were 
rather  gratified,  or  at  least  disinclined  to  grumble. 
Now,  however,  we  have  reached  the  stage  of  real 
darkness.  To  go  out  in  it  is,  as  I  heard  a  servant 
remark,  like  going  into  the  coal-hole  without  a  candle. 
There  are  parts  of  the  town  in  which  even  the  soberest 
man  may  walk  into  a  tree  or  a  lamp-post,  and  there 
is  almost  no  part  of  the  town  in  which  during  the 
dark  of  the  moon  a  man  may  not  fall  down  a  flight 
of  stone  steps — and  will  not,  if  he  does  not  carry  an 
electric  torch.  Perhaps  the  best  compensation 
Londoners  have  been  given  for  the  darkness  is  the 
pleasing  variety  of  the  means  by  which  the  lights 
have  been  dimmed  in  different  neighbourhoods.  In 
some  suburbs  the  lamps  look  as  though  they  had 
been  dirtied  like  a  slut's  face.  Elsewhere  they  wear 
masks  pierced  with  holes,  and  are  terrible  and  black 
like  inquisitors  or  mediaeval  executioners.  Some  of 
them  are  blue,  some  green,  some  brown,  some 
flamingo-coloured.  London,  that  lawless  city,  was 
never  more  admirably  lawless  than  in  this.  Light 
falls  from  many  of  them  like  the  veils  that  little 
children  wear  in  Catholic  countries  on  taking  their 
first  communion.  From  others  it  falls  like  the 
garment  of  a  ghost.  Other  lights  give  the  effect  of 
a  row  of  Chinese  lanterns  hung  high  above  a  high 
street.  But  there  is  no  sense  of  merriment  amid  all 
these  fantastic  odds  and  ends  of  lights.  The  light 
regulations  have  manifestly  muted  the  life  of  London. 
Even  the  Australian  and  Canadian  soldiers  who 
pace  so  determinedly  up  and  down  the  Strand  and 
hang  in  groups  round  every  corner,  have  an  elfin 
unsubstantial  appearance  among  the  shadows.  Men 
not  in  khaki  look  black  as  Hamlets.  Girls  of  the 
plainest  are  mysteries  till  one  hears  their  voices. 
The  porches  of  theatres  are  filled  with  a  blue  mystic 
light  that  would  make  one  speak  in  whispers.  Night 

13 


THE  DARKNESS 

certainly  falls  on  London  like  a  blanket.  Perhaps 
it  is  mostly  illusion.  There  is,  as  they  say,  all  the 
fun  of  the  fair  going  on  for  those  who  are  young  and 
giddy  of  heart,  and  London  is  not  without  laughter 
and  loud  voices  and  reeling  figures.  But  the  effect 
is,  undoubtedly,  depressing.  Public-houses,  darkened 
like  prisons,  no  longer  invite  the  mob  with  bright 
and  vulgar  windows.  Cinematograph  theatres  are 
as  gloomy-fronted  as  though  over  their  doors  they 
bore  the  motto  :  "  Abandon  hope,  all  ye  who  enter 
here."  Rather  than  venture  into  such  a  wilderness 
of  joylessness,  many  people  prefer  to  sit  at  home 
and  play  tiddleywinks.  Or  argue.  How  they  argue! 
Luckily,  in  the  beginning,  there  were  created,  along 
with  the  earth,  a  sun  and  a  moon,  and  neither 
policeman  nor  magistrate  nor  any  other  creature 
has  any  power  over  them  of  regulation  or  control. 
It  is  the  moon  that  makes  London  by  night  beauti- 
ful in  war-time.  It  is  the  moon  that  makes  the 
north  side  of  Trafalgar  Square  white  with  romance 
like  a  Moorish  city,  and  makes  the  South  Kensing- 
ton Museum  itself  appear  as  though  it  had  been 
built  to  music.  London  under  the  moon  is  a  city  of 
wonder,  a  city  of  fair  streets  and  fair  citizens.  Under 
the  moon  the  arc-lamps  in  their  cowls  no  longer 
affect  us  like  sentinel  killjoys.  They  seem  feeble 
and  insignificant  as  dying  torches  when  the  moon- 
light performs  her  miracles  and  exalts  this  city  of 
mean  dwellings  into  a  beauty  equal  to  that  of  the 
restless  sea. 


REVENGE 

Revenge  is  a  thing  for  which  none  of  us  in  cold 
blood  has  a  good  word  to  say.  It  is  a  ridiculous 
property  of  melodrama.  It  is  quite  evident,  how- 
ever, to  anyone  who  pays  even  a  little  attention  to 
the  conversations  going  on  everywhere  around  him 
just  now,  that  the  spirit  of  revenge  is  alive  and 
kicking  in  the  world  at  large.  Indeed,  if  one 
examines  one's  own  heart  after  reading  an  account 
of  the  latest  exploits  of  the  German  machine  of 
horror  in  Belgium,  one  will  probably  find  the  spirit 
of  revenge  alive  and  kicking  there.  It  is  at  its 
birth  a  generous  instinct  enough.  It  is  the  same 
instinct  that  inspired  the  great  opening  of  Milton's 
sonnet : 

"Avenge,    O    Lord,   Thy   slaughtered  saints  whose 

bones 
Lie  scattered  on  the  Alpine  mountains  cold." 

One  thinks  of  helpless  men  and  women  in  the 
grip  of  some  swooping  pestilence,  of  some  beast 
outside  Nature,  and  one  desires  the  utter  destruction 
of  this  evil  thing  with  as  little  scruple  as  one  desires 
the  end  of  an  epidemic  of  scarlet  fever.  This  is  up 
to  a  point  justifiable — even  commendable.  There 
is  no  murder  in  wishing  the  death  and  burial  of 
Prussianism — especially  of  Prussianism  let  loose  in 
Belgium.  Prussianism,  which  is  simply  the  per- 
fected spirit  of  Imperialism,  is  a  plague  among  the 
nations.  It  is  a  burden  of  which  the  world  must 
get  rid,  or  else  the  world  as  we  know  it  at  its  best  will 
perish.  It  is  quite  reasonable  to  demand  that,  if 

15 


REVENGE 

the  Allies  win  in  the  present  war,  Prussianism  will 
be  made  impossible  for  the  rest  of  history.  It  is 
one  thing,  however,  to  wish  to  give  the  death  blow 
to  Prussianism ;  it  is  quite  another  thing  to  wish  to 
injure  Germany  or  the  German  people.  This  is 
where  revenge  comes  in.  The  spirit  of  revenge  is 
a  kind  of  unthinking  justice,  which  is  only  satisfied 
when  every  outrage  has  been  answered  by  another 
outrage.  It  would  be  glad  to  see  the  Allies  repeat- 
ing in  Germany  every  incident  of  pillage  and 
massacre  of  which  the  Germans  have  been  guilty 
in  Belgium.  An  instance  of  this  spirit  will  be  found 
in  the  comment  of  a  Londoner  on  the  destruction 
of  Louvain :  "  Well,  the  Germans  have  cities  that 
are  worth  burning.  There's  Heidelberg.  .  .  ." 

One  hears  a  good  many  things  said  about  the 
Kaiser  which  are  friskings  of  the  same  spirit  of 
vengeance.  I  heard  the  other  day  a  Territorial  dis- 
cussing what  it  would  be  best  to  do  with  the  Kaiser 
when  he  was  caught.  "  I  wouldn't  send  him  to  St. 
Helena,"  he  said;  "that  would  be  too  honourable; 
it  would  be  treating  him  like  Napoleon.  As  a  mat- 
ter of  fact,  I  don't  think  we'll  catch  him.  He's  a 
damned  plucky  chap,  and  I  feel  sure  he'll  die  rather 
than  let  himself  be  captured.  But,  if  we  do  catch 
him,  I  think  he  ought  to  be  sent  to  1'Ile  du  Diable 
— that  place  where  Dreyfus  was."  I  heard  much 
the  same  kind  of  conversation  from  a  little  burning- 
eyed  man  who  addressed  me  on  the  top  of  a  bus  in 
Oxford  Street  as  though  I  were  a  public  meeting. 
"The  Kayser,"  he  said,  " —  do  you  know  what  I'd 
like  to  do  to  him  ?  If  I  'adn't  a  wife  and  three 
children  to  provide  for,  nothing  would  give  me  more 
satisfaction  than  to  go  out  on  the  field  of  battle  and 
shoot  'im  dead  with  my  own  'and,  if  I  was  to  die  for 
it  the  next  minute."  "  'Ear,  'ear,"  a  lady  with 
peroxide  hair  turned  round  and  interrupted  him. 
"  People  s'y,"  the  little  man  went  on  contemptu- 

16 


REVENGE 

ously,  "send  'im  to  St.  'Elena.  W'y  should  'e  live 
in  luxury  in  St.  'Elena?  And  I'm  not  sure  if  I 
would  shoot  'im.  Shooteen's  too  honourable  for  'im." 
He  tapped  me  on  the  knee  confidentially.  "  I'd  send 
'im  to  Sigh-beria,"  he  rasped,  with  the  air  of  com- 
mitting a  dreadful  secret  to  me,  "  there  to  live  in 
tawtcher  !  "  It  may  be  retorted  that  the  people  who 
talk  like  this  do  not  mean  what  they  say — that,  if 
they  did  suddenly  find  themselves  invested  with 
power  of  life  and  death  over  the  Kaiser,  they  would 
probably  treat  him  as  humanely  as  was  consistent 
with  depriving  him  of  opportunities  to  escape 
or  to  repeat  his  crimes.  Napoleon  was  regarded 
until  he  was  captured  as  a  fiend  almost  too  horrible 
to  be  allowed  to  exist.  Once  he  was  captured,  he 
fascinated  even  the  English  sailors  who  carried  him 
away,  We  like  to  take  our  revenges  these  days  in 
words,  not  in  deeds.  We  have  lost  most  of  the 
delight  our  savage  forefathers  used  to  experience  in 
the  physical  sufferings  of  their  enemies.  We  have 
not  yet,  however,  ceased  entirely  to  delight  in  the 
thought  of  these  sufferings. 

Revenge  is  certainly  one  of  the  oldest  and  most 
natural  of  the  passions.  It  is  as  old  as  the  day  on 
which  Moses  slew  the  Egyptian.  It  goes  back  to  the 
year  in  which  Achilles  dragged  the  body  of  Hector 
round  the  walls  of  Troy.  It  is  still  a  powerful  force 
in  the  lives  of  many  subject  nationalities.  The  Finn 
and  the  Pole  can  appreciate  the  motives  of  Moses 
to-day — at  least  they  could  yesterday.  Revenges, 
such  as  the  assassination  of  Bobrikoff,  are  regarded 
as  executions  rather  than  murders.  There  are  cases 
of  revenge,  indeed,  with  which  nearly  all  of  us  would 
be  half  in  sympathy  even  if  we  felt  bound  to  disap- 
prove of  them.  The  man  who  avenges  an  injury 
done  to  his  wife  or  his  children  is  seldom  regarded 
as  a  criminal  on  the  same  level  as  the  man  who 
avenges  an  injury  merely  to  himself.  Most  of  us 

17  c 


REVENGE 

would  admit  that  there  are  two  kinds  of  revenge — 
the  selfish  and  the  unselfish — and  that  in  unselfish 
revenge  there  is  a  quality  of  nobleness.  One  of  the 
greatest  heroes  of  every  generous  schoolboy's  imagi- 
nation is  Hannibal,  sworn  from  his  childhood  to 
vengeance  upon  Rome.  We  are  still  capable  of  this 
national  vengefulness,  though  the  moralists  do  not 
encourage  it.  The  Irish,  we  may  be  sure,  charged 
all  the  more  resolutely  at  Fontenoy,  owing  to  their 
watchword,  "  Remember  Limerick  !  "  The  desire 
to  settle  national  accounts  of  this  kind  is  deep-seated 
and  a  powerful  motive  in  war.  One  would  expect 
that,  in  the  present  war,  the  French  would  fight  with 
greater  determination  than  any  of  their  allies,  owing 
to  their  long-expressed  desire  to  avenge  the  humilia- 
tions of  1870.  If  they  do  not  do  so,  it  is  because 
organisation  is  even  more  effective  than  the  spirit  of 
revenge.  Certainly,  one  has  no  desire  to  see  venge- 
ance proved  efficient.  It  never  does  settle  accounts 
in  a  final  manner.  We  see  in  every  record  of  feud 
or  vendetta  a  foolish  give-and-take  of  crime,  to  which 
there  is  no  logical  end  but  the  extermination  of  one 
side.  A  Capulet  kills  a  Montague,  who  has  to  be 
avenged.  A  Capulet  is  killed,  and  again  vengeance 
must  be  taken.  Kill  another  Montague,  and  another 
Capulet  must  perish.  However  one's  sympathies  may 
lie  at  the  beginning  of  the  feud,  before  long  the 
imagination  sickens  at  this  monotonous  serial  of 
murder.  Sooner  or  later  the  heart  turns  to  magna- 
nimity for  relief.  It  might  equally  well  have  begun 
with  it.  Both  in  private  and  public  life  we  find  that 
vengeance  sets  us  sliding  down  an  inclined  plane  of 
folly. 

One  has  an  excellent  example  of  this  in  the 
relations  between  Protestants  and  Catholics  during, 
at  least,  two  centuries.  Mary  burned  Protestants 
in  England;  Elizabeth  massacred  Catholics  in 
Ireland.  France  maltreated  Protestants;  Eng- 

18 


REVENGE 

land  in  retort  outlawed  Catholics.  Each  could — 
or  at  least  did — always  point  to  some  previous 
crime  committed  by  the  other  to  justify  its  own 
crime.  One  found  the  same  criminal  tit-for-tat 
in  Ulster  only  yesterday,  when  an  attack  on  a 
Protestant  Sunday-school  excursion  at  Castledawson 
was  answered  by  outrages  upon  Catholics  in  the 
Belfast  shipyards.  The  history  of  the  present  war 
has  been  full  of  the  small  change  of  revenge. 
Germans  were  nearly  kicked  to  death  by  the  mob 
in  the  streets  of  Brussels.  Englishmen  had  perilous 
experiences  at  the  hands  of  the  mob  in  Berlin. 
Outrages  of  this  kind,  in  all  probability,  have  not 
been  so  general  as  the  Press  has  made  out.  I  am 
sure  that,  if  stories  of  humanity  made  as  sensational 
"  copy "  as  stories  of  brutality,  the  papers  would 
have  been  as  full  of  the  former  as  of  the  latter. 
The  Press,  however,  thrives  on  the  spirit  of  ven- 
geance. The  German  Press  is  eager  to  rouse  the 
spirit  of  vengeance  in  the  German  people.  The 
English  Press — or  a  part  of  it — is  eager  to  rouse 
the  spirit  of  vengeance  in  the  English  people.  Con- 
sequently, each  country  hears  a  good  deal  more 
than  the  worst  of  the  other,  and  a  good  deal  less 
than  the  best.  I  do  not  mean  to  suggest  that  the 
armies  of  the  Allies  have  committed  crimes  such  as 
the  burning  of  Louvain  or  that  the  guilt  of  the 
Germans  is  not  colossal.  But  one  prefers  to  see 
the  peoples  spurred  on  to  fight  chivalrously  rather 
than  in  the  spirit  of  wild  revenge.  One  would 
not  like  to  see  the  armies  of  the  Allies  devoured 
with  a  passion  for  answering  outrage  with  outrage, 
horror  with  horror.  One  has  no  love  for  this  book- 
keeping in  murder. 

Outrages  should  incite  us  to  overthrow  the  out- 
rager.  That  is  all.  The  women  he  has  defiled 
cannot  be  restored  to  happiness  by  the  unhappiness 
of  yet  other  women.  A  dead  German  child  will 

19 


REVENGE 

not  bring  a  dead  Belgian  child  to  life  again. 
Louvain  will  not  rise  from  its  ashes  even  though 
you  burn  down  Heidelberg  to  the  last  book  in  its 
libraries.  One  can  see  at  once  what  a  world  of 
futilities  one  would  be  led  into  by  revenge.  The 
truth  isthat  in  thisworld  it  isalmost  always  impossible 
to  make  the  punishment  fit  the  crime  without 
becoming  a  criminal  oneself — and  a  futile  one  at 
that.  Among  primitive  races  men  resort  to  torture 
in  order  to  inflict  adequate  punishment  on  the 
guilty.  Civilised  peoples  have  again  and  again 
reverted  to  this  method  of  barbarism  ;  indeed,  they 
clung  to  it  with  bitter  faith  till  within  the  last 
century.  It  would  be  difficult  to  show  that  it  ever 
lessened  crime.  It  has  been  ineffective  as  a  weapon 
of  virtue  and  has  in  a  hundred  cases  been  turned 
against  the  most  virtuous  citizens  in  the  State. 
Nobody  now  approves — in  theory,  at  least — of 
vindictiveness  in  punishment.  We  believe  almost 
as  little  in  cruelty  to  criminals  as  in  cruelty  to 
children.  We  would  not  break  a  man  on  the 
wheel  or  torture  him  on  the  rack  or  burn  him 
over  a  slow  fire,  no  matter  how  abominable  his 
crime.  It  is  not  that  he  might  not  deserve  it.  It 
is  simply  that  we  feel  we  should  become  base  our- 
selves in  answering  his  crime  in  that  way.  This, 
I  admit,  is  armchair  philosophy.  If  one  were  a 
Belgian — if  one  had  seen  one's  home  devastated, 
one's  women  violated,  one's  dwellings  razed  to  the 
ground — one  would  no  doubt  see  red  in  one's  hatred 
of  so  remorseless  an  enemy.  One  might  even — 
though,  I  confess,  I  do  not  see  how  any  but  the 
unimaginative  or  the  distraught  could — feel  such  a 
rage  as  the  Psalmist  felt  when  he  desired  God  to 
dash  the  heads  of  the  little  children  of  his  enemies 
against  the  stones.  On  the  other  hand,  when  one 
thinks  the  matter  out  calmly,  one  can  see  no  clear 
and  honest  way  of  revenge  but  to  heap  coals  of  fire 

20 


REVENGE 

on  an  enemy's  head.  When  one  hears  that  the 
crew  of  a  German  mine-layer  has  been  rescued 
from  death  by  British  sailors,  one  knows  that  the 
British  sailors  have  done  the  right  thing.  That  is 
the  only  kind  of  revenge  which  does  not  darken  the 
light  of  the  sun — the  revenge  of  magnanimity. 


THE  ASS 

Many  authors  have  written  in  defence  of  the  goat, 
the  goose,  and  the  ass.  They  have  contended,  and 
not  without  a  good  show  of  argument,  that  the  goat, 
the  goose,  and  the  ass  are  maligned  and  beautiful 
animals.  Mr.  W.  H.  Hudson  has  written  an  apol- 
ogia for  the  goose  which  is  one  of  the  most  attractive 
of  contemporary  essays.  So  far  as  I  can  remember, 
one  of  his  brightest  examples  of  intelligence  in  the 
goose  family  was  a  gander  which  tried  to  open  a 
gate  by  pushing  it  with  the  flat  of  its  foot.  Probably, 
if  one  were  sufficiently  intimate  with  the  higher  life 
of  the  goat,  one  would  be  able  to  quote  a  parallel 
miracle  of  good  sense.  But,  in  spite  of  all  the  artists 
and  naturalists  have  done  on  behalf  of  the  reputation 
of  these  three  animals,  the  world  at  large,  following 
the  tradition,  has  insisted  upon  regarding  them  as 
patterns  of  brainlessness,  stubbornness,  and  noise. 

Of  the  three,  the  ass  has  suffered  most  from 
abuse.  At  the  same  time  it  has  also  been  the  most 
glorified.  It  appears  and  reappears  in  paintings  of 
the  life  of  Christ  like  a  household  pet.  One  sees  it 
pacing  the  little  winding  roads  among  the  little  hills 
in  a  hundred  pictures  of  the  Holy  Family.  The  very 
cross  upon  its  back  is  said  to  have  been  bestowed 
upon  it  as  a  memento  of  the  day  on  which  it  bore 
Christ  over  the  palms  into  Jerusalem.  The  Chris- 
tian Church  in  some  parts  of  Europe  at  one  period 
held  a  festival  in  its  honour  on  the  I4th  of  January 
in  commemoration  of  the  Flight  into  Egypt.  During 
the  feast,  as  it  was  observed  at  Beauvais — so  we  are 
told  in  all  the  books  on  the  medieval  drama — an  ass, 
ridden  by  a  beautiful  girl  carrying  a  baby  or  doll, 

32 


THE  ASS 

was  led  into  the  church  to  hear  Mass,  and,  as  the 
service  went  on,  the  people  honoured  it  by  chanting 
"  Hee-haw "  wherever  the  responses  should  have 
been  given.  The  ass,  which  at  times  seems  to  have 
been  a  wooden  figure,  was  greeted,  we  are  told,  with 
an  address,  a  part  of  which  has  been  translated, 
"  From  the  Eastern  lands  the  Ass  is  come,  beautiful 
and  very  brave,  well  fitted  to  bear  burdens.  Up,  Sir 
Ass,  and  sing  !  Open  your  pretty  mouth.  Hay  will 
be  yours  in  plenty  and  oats  in  abundance."  At  the 
end  of  the  service  the  priest  brayed  instead  of  saying 
Itf,  missa  est,  and  the  congregation  responded  with  a 
triple  "Hee-haw!  Hee-haw!  Hee-haw!"  This 
may  in  its  origin  have  been  a  festival  in  praise  of  an 
ass's  good  deeds.  But  it  was  clearly  transformed  in 
time  into  a  festival  of  the  comic  sense  at  which  men 
purged  themselves  of  the  arrears  of  blasphemy  and 
irreverence  that  were  stored  up  in  their  bosoms. 
The  ass  became  a  means  of  insult,  not  an  object  of 
worship;  and  since  the  Middle  Ages  it  has  been  the 
men  of  letters  rather  than  the  priests  who  have 
regarded  it  with  something  like  affectionate  esteem. 
It  is  possible  that  the  veneration  of  the  ass  may  in 
some  way  be  descended  from  some  pre-Christian 
form  of  ass-worship.  The  Egyptians  worshipped 
Seth  in  the  similitude  of  an  ass,  and  one  of  the 
scandalous  charges  against  the  Jews  was  that  they 
were  ass-worshippers,  or,  in  the  more  learned  word, 
onolaters.  They  were  believed  even  to  fatten  some 
profane  person,  such  as  a  Greek,  every  five  years, 
to  sacrifice  to  their  ass-deity.  The  scandal  was 
afterwards  transferred  to  the  Christians,  and  Tertul- 
lian  has  left  a  story  of  an  apostate  Jew  who  carried 
an  ass-eared  figure  through  the  streets  of  Carthage, 
with  an  inscription  saying  that  this  was  the  god  of 
the  Christians.  A  third-century  caricature  of  the 
Crucifixion,  in  which  the  figure  on  the  cross  has  an 
ass's  head,  is  suggestive  of  the  popularity  of  the  ass 

23 


THE  ASS 

legend,  and  some  authorities  have  even  seen  a 
mockery  of  the  Christian  religion  in  the  fantastic 
humour  of  the  Golden  Ass  of  Apuleius.  It  will  be 
seen  that  the  ass  has  had  a  harlequin  career.  He 
has  been  a  god,  and  he  has  supplied  a  head  to  Bot- 
tom the  weaver.  Mr.  Wells,  in  one  of  the  most 
brilliant  satires  of  Boon,  has  further  proclaimed  the 
beast's  presence  in  the  House  of  Commons  and  in 
the  offices  of  British  newspapers,  and  has  stated  one 
of  the  great  problems  of  the  hour  as  the  problem  of 
driving  the  wild  asses  of  the  Devil  back  into  Hell. 

There  is  certainly  no  greater  peril  to  the  world 
than  the  ass.  There  is  also  no  greater  peril  to  the 
ass  than  the  ass.  It  was  the  asininity  of  the  Stuarts 
which  lost  them  the  English  throne.  It  was  the 
stubborn  asininity  of  George  III.  which  lost  Eng- 
land the  American  colonies.  It  was  to  the  asininity 
of  Marie  Antoinette  that  was  partly  due  the  un- 
governable rage  of  the  French  Revolution.  History 
is  an  epic  of  the  destruction  of  asses  or  of  the 
destruction  which  asses  have  brought  upon  innocent 
people.  The  ass  has  cut  this  prominent  figure 
in  history  because  its  stubbornness  is  more  lasting 
than  character  and  more  persistent  than  wisdom. 
The  wise  man  will  get  tired  of  being  wise  before 
the  ass  gets  tired  of  being  an  ass.  That  is  the 
ass's  strength.  Its  bray  echoes  down  the  centuries 
like  the  voice  of  a  conqueror.  It  has  invaded  not 
only  the  sanctuary,  but  politics,  literature  and  the 
arts.  For  the  most  part,  each  generation  forgets 
the  asses  of  the  generation  before.  Even  when  a 
Pope  writes  a  Dunciad  we  find  it  difficult  to  read. 
We  become  overwhelmed  in  the  presence  of  such 
a  multitude  of  asses.  We  feel  we  have  enough  of 
our  own.  And  yet,  unless  we  realise  what  the 
human  ass  has  accomplished  in  past  ages,  we  shall 
be  in  danger  of  underestimating  the  peril  he  is  to 
our  own  time.  Had  it  not  been  for  the  ass,  it  is 

24 


THE  ASS 

possible  that  we  should  have  arrived  at  the  New 
Jerusalem,  or  by  whatever  name  you  prefer  to  call 
the  golden  city,  long  ago.  But  the  ass  has  always 
insisted  upon  knowing  better  than  anyone  else,  and, 
on  the  plea  that  it  objected  to  its  present  driver, 
has  lain  down  at  the  side  of  the  muddy  road.  It 
always  seems  to  be  suggesting  that,  if  it  only  had 
another  driver,  it  would  proceed  on  its  journey  at 
a  gallop.  But  give  it  another  driver,  and  it  still 
protests.  Of  all  animals  it  is  said  to  have  almost 
the  least  social  sense.  It  is  infinitely  less  responsive 
than  a  cat.  If  only  the  asses  could  unite  together 
they  would  make  the  world  an  impossible  place  to 
live  in.  But  they  do  not  even  understand  that  group- 
consciousness  which,  in  one  of  its  forms,  we  call 
patriotism.  They  indulge  in  a  "  Hee-haw  "  patriot- 
ism of  their  own,  it  is  true,  but  it  seldom  gets 
beyond  a  "  Hee-haw."  It  is  merely  a  bray  and 
obstructiveness.  Soon  the  face  resumes  its  placid 
insensibility.  The  ass  is  as  unteachable  as  he  is 
serious-looking.  He  always  looks  serious,  even  at 
times  at  which  one  suspects  him  of  something  like 
frivolity.  There  was  an  asinine  seriousness  about 
the  proceedings  of  a  local  body  the  other  day  which 
ordered  the  deletion  of  a  German  manufacturer's 
name  from  the  face  of  the  municipal  clock.  Ob- 
viously, the  adult  males  who  passed  a  resolution 
to  this  effect  had  utterly  failed  to  realise  that  we 
are  in  the  midst  of  the  most  serious  crisis  that  has 
come  upon  the  world  for  more  than  a  century.  No 
one  with  what  is  called  horse-sense  could  have  ever 
dreamed  that  the  cause  of  freedom  in  Europe  could 
be  aided  by  scratching  a  few  letters  off  the  face  of  a 
clock.  But  it  is  exactly  the  sort  of  idea  which 
appeals  to  the  ass-sense  of  human  beings.  A  few 
days  later  appeared  a  letter  from  a  gentleman  urging 
his  fellow-countrymen  to  imitate  the  example  of 
this  body  in  regard  to  the  names  of  London  streets 

25 


THE  ASS 

and  squares.  He  said  that  it  was  a  national  disgrace 
that  London  should  possess  a  Teutonically-named 
Hanover  Square.  Luckily,  diversions  of  this  kind 
from  the  serious  business  of  the  war  have  very  little 
effect.  But  they  are  sufficiently  numerous  to 
suggest  that  the  ass  is  a  far  from  extinct  animal  in 
England. 

And  there  are  much  more  serious  cases  than  this. 
There  are  a  number  of  gentlemen  with  seats  in  the 
Houses  of  Parliament  whose  minds  are  continually 
busy  with  the  same  kind  of  serious  frivolities  and 
obstinate  inanities.  The  finest  materials  for  the 
natural  history  of  the  ass  exist  not  in  Buffon,  but 
in  Hansard.  One  authority  upon  asses  has  written 
that  "it  would  be  interesting  to  find  out  what  were 
the  different  conditions  that  made  one  variety  of 
wild  ass  a  shy  animal  and  another  variety  of  ass  an 
inquisitive  animal."  As  to  the  conditions  I  do  not 
propose  to  discuss  them.  But  as  to  the  existence 
of  the  inquisitive  "variety  of  ass  "do  not  every 
day's  Parliamentary  reports  bear  painful  witness  to 
it  ?  First,  there  is  the  kind  that  asks  whether  the 
Home  Office  is  aware  that  a  little  girl  whose  grand- 
mother, though  born  in  Italy,  had  a  German  step- 
aunt,  is  employed  on  a  sewing-machine  in  the 
neighbourhood  of  a  munitions  factory  in  Bubbletown, 
and  whether  he  will  undertake  to  have  her  interned 
without  further  delay.  Then  there  is  the  sort  that 
asks  whether  it  is  the  case  that  Lord  Haldane  was 
seen  eating  sausages  during  a  recent  visit  to  Switzer- 
land, whether  this  is  not  evidence  of  pro-German 
sympathies,  whether  the  Government  commissioned 
him  to  eat  the  sausages,  and  whether  the  sausages 
were  paid  for  at  the  nation's  expense  or  out  of  Lord 
Haldane's  own  pocket.  Yet  a  third  variety  is  in- 
quisitive about  neutrals.  It  does  not  exactly  know 
what  a  neutral  is.  It  regards  "  neutral "  as  a  word 
which  means  somebody  who  ought  to  be  hostile  to 


THE  ASS 

Germany,  but  isn't.  It  thinks  that  the  word  ought 
to  mean  one  who  is  at  the  beck  and  call  of  the 
Allies.  This  kind  of  "  inquisitive  animal "  would  in 
all  probability  denounce  America  for  having  aban- 
doned her  neutrality  if  she  were  able  and  willing  to 
supply  munitions  to  Germany  as  she  has  done  to 
England.  He  "hee-haws"  about  small  nations 
when  Belgium  is  mentioned,  but  when  he  is  roused 
against  Holland  or  Greece  he  declares  his  readiness 
to  make  war  on  them  as  "petty  States."  It  is  im- 
possible for  him  to  get  it  into  his  head  that,  though 
the  passage  of  contraband  goods  into  Germany  may 
be  a  serious  matter,  it  would  be  still  more  serious 
to  add  a  new  ally  to  the  armies  of  the  Central 
Powers.  He  is  ready  to  challenge  all  the  nations 
of  the  earth.  He  regards  the  Foreign  Office  ap- 
parently as  an  institution  which  exists  for  the 
purpose  of  smuggling  meat  and  munitions  into 
Germany.  He  will  trust  no  Foreign  Office  which 
does  not  put  neutrals  under  lock  and  key.  He 
contributes  nothing  but  noise  and  obstinacy  to  a 
situation  which  demands,  above  all  things,  brains. 
One  scarcely  knows  whether  he  is  more  stupid  or 
mischievous.  Mrs.  Wharton  in  her  book  on  Fight- 
ing France  observes  that,  in  her  opinion,  the  fine 
and  determined  spirit  in  which  the  French  are 
waging  the  war  is  due  above  all  to  their  national 
intelligence.  There  is  abundance  of  intelligence 
in  England,  too,  but  there  is  a  constant  danger  of 
its  being  of  no  avail  owing  to  the  obstinate  and 
opinionated  quadrupeds  that  are  continually  setting 
themselves  across  its  path.  On  the  side  of  asininity 
the  gods  themselves  fight  in  vain,  and,  though  it 
was  geese  that  saved  the  Roman  Capitol,  one  may 
be  quite  sure  that  it  is  not  asses  that  are  going  to 
save  the  imperilled  freedom  of  Europe. 


FAREWELL  TO  TREATING 

It  would  be  interesting  to  make  a  register  of  the 
adult  males  of  England  in  terms  of  those  who 
never  go  into  a  public-house  from  one  year's  end 
to  the  other,  those  who  sometimes  do  so,  and  those 
who  regularly  do  so.  The  last  two  classes,  I  imagine, 
would  greatly  outnumber  the  first.  England  is  a 
public-house-going  nation.  She  drank  beer  under 
the  sign  of  the  Seven  Stars  and  rested  the  soles  of 
her  feet  in  the  sawdust  at  the  bar  of  the  Salutation 
and  Cat  long  before  Columbus  lost  himself  at  sea 
or  Isaac  Newton  began  to  take  note  of  falling  apples. 
Is  not  the  very  word  "  public-house  "  an  epitome  of 
the  history  of  a  nation's  pleasure  ?  The  bishops  have 
never  succeeded  in  making  the  churches  public-houses 
in  the  degree  in  which  the  inns  are  public-houses. 
There  have  been  periods  in  history  when  men  have 
been  compelled  by  law  to  go  to  church,  but  no  law 
was  ever  needed  to  drive  a  man  into  an  inn.  He 
has  found  here  as  nowhere  else  the  medicine  of 
fancy,  the  elixir  vitae.  He  has  found  here  a  true 
house  of  peers,  in  which  Oliver  Cromwell's  ideal 
that  every  Jack  shall  be  a  gentleman  is  realised 
as  it  has  not  yet  been  realised  in  politics.  The 
public-houses  in  cities  are  not,  I  admit,  so  demo- 
cratic as  that.  Their  public  bars  and  private  bars 
and  saloon  bars  and  jug-and-bottle  entrances  wall 
off  the  classes  from  each  other  like  animals  in  cages, 
and  in  some  of  them  even  a  row  of  little  shutters, 
at  the  height  of  a  man's  face,  conceals  the  respect- 
able tradesman  from  his  carter  who  may  be  roaring 
in  the  four-ale  bar.  None  the  less,  the  public-house 
is,  on  the  whole,  a  place  of  relaxation  and  friendliness. 

2$ 


FAREWELL  TO  TREATING 

Men  who  have  left  their  homes  with  sour  faces 
here  find  no  difficulty  in  beaming  upon  perfect 
strangers.  The  same  man  who  has  just  argued 
himself  too  poor  to  afford  to  buy  his  child  a 
pair  of  shoes  that  will  keep  out  the  rain,  here 
swells  into  a  balloon  of  generosity  and  becomes  a 
prince  of  the  golden  age  while  the  money  lasts. 
Such  an  atmosphere  of  generosity,  indeed,  dwells 
in  the  public-house  like  a  guardian  spirit  that  the 
law  has  had  on  more  than  one  occasion  to  step  in 
and  forbid  men  to  be  excessively  friends  with  one 
another.  Thus  it  was  made  illegal  for  wages  to 
be  paid  in  public  houses,  for  fear  that  men  in  a 
wild  intoxication  of  brotherhood  might  pour  out 
their  gold  like  a  gift.  And  now  comes  the  no- 
treating  order  as  another  fetter  upon  this  easy 
traditional  charity.  It  is  no  longer  possible  to 
pay  for  another  man's  drink  in  a  London  public- 
house,  whether  he  be  your  friend  or  whether  he 
be  one  of  those  homeless  nightbirds  with  the 
sadness  of  defeat  in  their  hollow  eyes,  for  whom 
all  is  lost  save  beer. 

Many  writers  have,  during  the  last  few  months, 
been  denouncing  the  treating  system  as  the  root 
of  much  evil,  and  I  have  no  doubt  that  it  has 
often  resulted  in  men  drinking  far  more  than  they 
either  wished  or  had  a  head  for.  Treating  was 
not  always  so  voluntary,  such  a  matter  of  goodwill, 
as  it  appeared.  Sometimes  one  was  practically 
compelled  to  treat ;  at  other  times  one  was  practi- 
cally compelled  to  be  treated.  The  second  of  the 
alternatives  was,  perhaps,  the  more  painful.  There 
were  youths  of  a  certain  class  and  at  a  certain  stage 
of  riotousness  who  took  it  as  a  personal  insult  if  an 
acquaintance  did  not  drink  with  them,  and  having 
won  their  point  in  regard  to  this,  also  took  it  as  a 
personal  insult  if  the  drink  ordered  were  not  of  a 
sufficiently  strong  variety.  Ginger  ale  and  lemonade 

29 


FAREWELL  TO  TREATING 

they  hated  as  the  Devil  is  said  to  hate  holy  water. 
Sometimes  they  flatly  refused  to  pay  for  "  soft 
drinks"  of  this  kind.  They  glowered  upon  the 
drinker  of  shandygaff  as  a  Laodicean.  They  justly 
abominated  the  man,  being  above  seventeen  years  of 
age,  who  called  for  public-house  claret.  To  be  treated 
by  men  of  this  kind  was  something  of  a  servitude. 
At  times  the  victim  of  the  tyrannies  of  treating 
could  be  seen  stealthily  pouring  an  undesired  glass 
of  whiskey  into  a  flower-pot,  into  a  fire-place,  on 
the  floor,  anywhere  except  down  his  throat.  But 
this  has  always  been  regarded  as  an  outrage  upon 
hospitality,  and  the  perpetrator  of  such  a  deed 
has  earned  the  black  opinions  of  good  and  bad 
men  alike. 

It  would  be  absurd,  however,  to  pretend  that 
the  treating  system  put  all  of  us  to  such  discomforts 
and  shifts.  Many  men  protested  against  a  second 
third,  fourth  or  fourteenth  drink,  but  their  protests 
were  half-hearted,  or  they  would  have  got  up  and 
gone  home.  The  protester  was  usually  a  kingdom 
divided  against  itself.  Reason  sternly  said  one 
thing,  and  a  smiling  stomach — or  was  it  a  smiling 
heart? — said  another.  It  was  only  a  rationalist 
of  the  strictest  sect,  who,  having  attained  to  a 
certain  hazy  and  golden  view  of  the  world,  could 
without  a  pang,  rise  up  and  go  out  into  the  streets 
of  disillusion.  It  was  a  kind  of  anticipation  of 
death.  For  convinced  and  professional  drinkers 
the  end  of  the  world  came  every  night  with  the 
monotonous  cry  of  the  pot-boy,  "Time,  gentlemen, 
please!"  and  the  final  clanging  of  the  doors.  From  the 
company  of  rosy-faced  friends  they  went  out  among 
skeletons  and  shadows.  Their  wills  still  hovered 
among  the  fumes  and  tobacco  smoke  of  those  haunts 
of  friendship  after  their  departure,  as  the  souls  in 
Plato  are  still  bound  after  death  to  their  earthly 
desires.  They  had  had  playmates,  they  had  had 

3° 


FAREWELL  TO  TREATING 

companions,  and  now  they  were  as  chill  and 
solitary  as  a  ghost  under  the  moon.  These,  it 
may  be  urged,  are  not  the  typical  good  fellows  of 
the  public-houses,  but  diseased  specimens,  creatures 
of  one  idea.  This  may  be,  but  they  are  in  the 
tradition  of  social  drinking  in  a  degree  their  sober 
contemporaries  are  not.  They  are  heirs  of  the 
Mermaid  Tavern,  of  the  days  of  Steele  and  Addison, 
of  the  days  of  Pitt  and  Fox  and  Sheridan,  of  the 
days  of  Lamb  and  Coleridge.  They  are  the 
brothers  of  Falstaff,  now  sunk  upon  tradesman 
days  and  grown  leaner  at  the  waist.  They  are 
proportionately  fewer  now  than  they  have  been  for 
centuries,  but  even  to-day  they  are  more  numerous 
than  the  Knights  of  the  Round  Table.  Or  were 
so  yesterday.  And  now  the  war  has  killed  them. 

At  least  it  has  struck  at  their  self-respect  a  blow 
from  which  it  will  not  easily  recover.  Hitherto 
they  were  able  to  gather  round  the  bar  as  models 
of  altruism.  Theirs  was  a  freemasonry  of  fellowship. 
The  give-and-take  of  drink  warmed  them  like  virtue 
in  action.  Each  man,  as  it  were,  drank  not  only 
his  private  whiskey  or  beer,  but  a  communal  nectar. 
Now  that  the  law  has  forbidden  treating,  however, 
if  a  man  is  to  go  on  drinking  with  his  friends, 
he  will  have  an  uneasy  feeling  that  he  is  drinking 
alone — that  he  is,  in  the  slang  term  of  reproach,  a 
"  dumb  boozer."  He  will  be  paying  for  himself  all  the 
time  instead  of  for  others.  He  will  be  the  sort  of 
person  he  has  always  wanted  to  kick,  since  he  was  a 
tiny  boy  and  hated  his  school-fellow  for  eating 
sweets  by  himself  and  never  offering  to  share  them. 
If  he  grows  redder  as  to  the  nose  and  blotchier  as 
to  the  face,  he  will  no  longer  be  able  to  tell  himself, 
forgivingly,  "  That  is  the  price  of  being  a  good 
fellow."  These  things  will  henceforth  seem  the 
emblems  of  self-indulgence,  and  worthier  of  a  place 
in  a  teetotaler's  tract  than  in  a  good  man's  counte- 


FAREWELL  TO  TREATING 

nance.  To  tell  the  truth,  the  no-treating  order 
has  taken  the  virtue  out  of  drinking.  After  all,  men 
did  drink  out  of  charitableness  as  well  as  from 
thirst,  and  it  was  not  entirely  to  their  discredit. 
That  is  why  I  would  say  a  very  gentle  farewell  to 
all  those  walking  bonfires  of  bibulousness  which 
are  now  being  quenched,  I  admit,  but  nevertheless, 
may  they  smoulder  in  peace  ! 

Hapless,  too,  is  the  case  of  the  sponger,  the 
cheerful  Jack  Point  of  the  public-houses,  he  who 
could  entertain  all  day  with  his  conversation  the 
meanest  and  the  stupidest  of  mankind,  provided  only 
his  tankard  was  kept  full.  He  was  often  the 
brightest  figure  in  the  public-house — sometimes 
the  best-dressed.  He  was  fond  of  boasting  of  his 
relationship  with  some  great  personage — a  states- 
man, a  peer,  or  a  man  of  letters.  His  eye  never 
wearied  of  gleaming  as,  making  use  of  the  ancient 
jest,  he  deduced  his  downfall  from  "  slow  horses 
and  fast  women."  Sometimes  he  was  a  broken- 
down  actor,  sometimes  he  was  a  broken-down 
doctor.  In  either  case  he  was  always  ready  to  accept 
drink,  and,  a  moment  later,  tobacco,  and  then  he 
would  hold  his  host  by  the  elbow  in  a  little 
whispered  conference,  during  which  the  question 
of  a  small  loan — anything  up  to  a  million  and  down  to 
twopence — would  be  discussed.  What  will  happen 
to  that  lean  champion  of  the  breed  who  used  to 
come  through  the  doors  like  Hamlet,  uttering 
"  Oho  ! "  in  every  kind  of  voice,  from  the  sepulchral 
to  the  triumphant  ?  Perhaps  he  has  been  dead 
for  years.  If  he  is  not,  how  fallen  on  evil  days ! 
How  very  sepulchral  his  "  Oho  !  "  must  have  grown 
by  this  time  !  How  starved  his  mirth  !  No  more, 
at  mention  of  a  drink,  will  he  look  with  dreaming 
eyes  into  the  face  of  his  benefactor,  and  say : 
" '  Kind  hearts  are  more  than  coronets  and  simple 
faith  than  Norman  blood.' 

32 


FAREWELL  TO  TREATING 

Tennyson,  my  boy,  Tennyson.  Do  you  know  it  ?  " 
No  more,  after  the  second  hour  of  drinking,  will 
he  raise  the  question  of  what  character  in  literature 
he  most  resembles,  answering  the  question  himself, 
"  Sydney  Carton,"  and  then  melancholily  adding, 
" — all  but  the  bravery."  Farewell,  a  long  farewell, 
to  all  his  drinking  !  He,  too,  has  been  quenched 
in  these  labouring  days.  Pity  his  passing,  and  be 
not  too  severe  on  one  who  was  after  all  a  not  too 
distant  relation  of  Jack  Falstaff. 


33 


REFUGEES 

London  is,  I  imagine,  at  the  present  time  fuller  of 
refugees  than  she  has  ever  been  at  any  period  in  her 
history.  Belgium  presents  a  spectacle  such  as  has 
not  previously  been  known  in  our  time.  She  is  a 
nation  in  flight.  One  cannot  pass  down  the  Strand 
without  seeing  evidence  of  this  tragic  migration. 
Red  'buses  carry  her  refugees  in  batches  to  the  doors 
of  relief  offices,  where  men,  women,  and  children,  with 
their  pathetic  packages,  dismount  with  the  air  of 
people  who  live  in  perpetual  rain.  They  do  not  look 
exactly  like  figures  in  a  grand  tragedy.  They  simply 
look  dismal,  as  if  they  had  had  a  bad  crossing  ;  they 
are  washed  out  like  women  who  have  been  sitting 
up  all  night  with  a  dying  man.  Some  of  them  are 
fortunately  stolid,  and  accept  their  fate  without 
losing  the  colour  from  their  cheeks.  But  as  one 
allows  oneself  to  realise  the  meaning  of  this  proces- 
sion of  homeless  people  in  actual  suffering,  one  can- 
not doubt  that  one  is  witnessing  one  of  the  most 
heartbreaking  of  the  world's  tragedies.  Think  for  a 
moment  what  it  would  be  to  have  London,  or  Glas- 
gow, or  Dublin  in  flight  in  this  manner — what  it 
must  be  to  have  a  modern  city  foundering  like  the 
Titanic  and  its  citizens  scrambling  out  for  dear  life, 
and  with  no  time  to  gather  up  all  those  little  follies 
of  property  which  yesterday  were  the  main  source 
of  one's  pride  in  being  alive.  One  can  fancy  the 
wild  march  of  the  millions  of  London — ladies  from 
Mayfair,  hooligans,  poets,  grocers,  publicans'  assist- 
ants, navvies,  clerks,  children  from  the  slums,  old 
men,  milliners,  newsboys,  coal-heavers,  mothers — 
toiling,  with  something  of  the  lost  look  of  Napoleon's 

34 


REFUGEES 

army  retreating  from  Moscow,  along  the  roads  that 
led  to  the  harbours  where  the  boats  for  America  lay. 
One's  property  would  have  become  worthless  as  dust 
in  a  single  night ;  one's  home,  one's  world  in  little, 
no  better  than  a  barn.  There  are,  no  doubt,  many 
of  the  more  prosperous  Belgian  refugees  who  have 
not  been  left  quite  so  impoverished  as  that.  But 
how  many  thousands  there  must  be  whose  fortune  is 
scarcely  more  than  the  clothes  on  their  backs !  That 
is  a  fate  which  might  befall  any  of  us  so  long  as  the 
era  of  wars  of  conquest  lasts.  In  justice,  indeed,  one 
would  think  it  ought  to  have  fallen  on  almost  any  of 
us  rather  than  the  Belgians.  They  are  not  sufferers 
from  any  ambition  of  their  own.  They  suffer  simply 
because  they  happened  to  be  in  the  way. 

There  is  no  figure  in  legend  or  history  that  makes 
a  greater  appeal  to  the  imagination  than  the  fugitive, 
whether  it  be  Cain  flying  from  the  side  of  his 
murdered  brother,  or  Lot  and  his  wife  escaping  from 
the  cities  of  the  plain,  or  Noah  and  his  caravan  of 
two-legged  and  four-legged  animals  going  aboard  the 
ark  with  the  threat  of  the  floods  pursuing  them. 
There  are  few  incidents  which  seem  in  the  same 
measure  to  gather  up  into  themselves  all  the  world's 
romance  as  the  flight  of  Joseph  and  Mary  and  the 
Child  into  Egypt.  In  glancing  back  over  history, 
indeed,  one  can  almost  persuade  oneself  that  it  is  the 
fugitives  that  have  inherited  the  earth.  Half  the 
great  characters  in  history  seem  to  have  been  fugi- 
tives at  one  time  or  another,  from  Moses  to  Plato, 
from  the  Christian  Apostles  to  Mazzini.  One  sees 
in  the  Jews  an  example  of  an  entire  race  of  refugees, 
and  in  the  United  States  of  America  an  instance  of  a 
nation  with  refugees  for  its  first  fine  citizens  and  its 
patron  saints.  The  world  owes  almost  more  to  its 
runaways  than  to  its  soldiers.  Every  student  of 
industrial  history  knows  the  debt  of  England  to 
fugitives  from  France  and  Flanders.  Low  Country- 

35 


REFUGEES 

men  brought  cotton  to  Lancashire.  It  was  the 
Flemish  weavers  flying  from  the  Spaniards  who 
brought  over  the  silk  manufacture.  Huguenots  took 
linen  to  Ireland.  Glassmaking  came  with  refugees 
from  France  and  Italy.  It  is  probable  that  nations 
owe  far  more  to  being  invaded  by  refugees  than  to 
being  invaded  by  conquerors.  It  is  refugees,  not  con- 
querors, who  are  the  advance  guard  of  international- 
ism. It  is  they  and  not  the  warriors  who  spread 
culture  over  the  earth.  None  the  less  there  is 
infinite  tragedy  in  their  fate.  One  thinks  of  the 
evicted  nation  as  a  crucified  nation.  There  is  hardly 
anything  which  human  beings  dread  more  than  exile. 
I  do  not  mean  by  this  the  voluntary  exile  of  the 
adventurer,  the  colonist.  That  is  one  of  the  lures  of 
youth.  It  is  a  step  into  the  light.  Real  exile  is 
another  matter.  It  is  an  escape  as  it  were  from  a 
falling  house,  a  flight  into  the  unknown.  Not  always 
is  the  exile  in  the  bitter  case  of  those  wanderers  who 
sat  down  and  wept  by  the  waters  of  Babylon.  But 
if  he  is  conscious  of  his  exile,  the  world  cannot  but 
be  a  vast  prison  to  him.  There  is  no  liberty  for  the 
man  who  has  not  the  liberty  to  go  home.  The 
refugee  is  a  man  driven  out  with  a  flaming  sword. 
The  world  had  its  fill  of  Russian,  Italian,  Polish,  and 
Irish  exiles  in  the  nineteenth  century.  So  numerous 
were  they  that  a  new  nation  might  have  been  made 
of  them.  They  were  so  abundant  that  people  in  the 
end  began  to  get  a  little  tired  and  even  to  see  the 
funny  side  of  them.  Not  all  of  them  had  the  pas- 
sionate dignity  of  Mazzini,  who  wore  mourning  for 
his  country  as  though  it  were  in  the  grave.  But  even 
Mazzini  rather  puzzled  some  of  his  friends  in 
England  as  though  he  were  a  monomaniac,  a  man 
with  a  fixed  idea.  Probably  one  does  become  a  man 
with  a  fixed  idea  if  one  is  without  a  country,  just  as 
one  would  become  a  man  with  a  fixed  idea  if  one 
were  without  food.  It  may  be  that  it  is  easier  to  live 

36 


REFUGEES 

without  a  country  than  without  food :  the  way  we 
see  Germans  and  Irish  settling  down  in  America  and 
forgetting  their  old  homes  suggests  that  it  is.  But 
even  they,  one  imagines,  never  quite  forget  the  skies 
they  have  deserted  for  the  commoner  skies  they  have 
taken  in  exchange.  They  would  not  go  home  except 
for  a  holiday,  but  the  songs  they  like  best  to  sing  are 
songs  about  home.  They  would  feel  traitors  and 
runaways  if  they  did  not  pay  this  lip-service  on  at 
least  one  day  in  the  year  to  the  country  of  their 
birth.  That  it  is  so  often  mere  lip-service,  is,  per- 
haps, the  reason  that  has  made  Turgenev  and  Mr. 
Conrad  so  severe  on  the  Russian  exile.  One  remem- 
bers, too,  Mr.  Kipling's  parody  on  the  "  Exile  of 
Erin  "  who  had  no  sooner  set  foot  in  America  than — 

"He  was  Alderman  Mike  inthroducin'  a  Bill." 

Unfortunately,  Mr.  Kipling  is  constitutionally  unfit 
to  distinguish  between  the  tragic  kind  of  exile  and 
the  comic  kind  of  exile.  He  is  the  grand  indicter  of 
the  unsuccessful  races,  and  he  does  not  recognise  the 
right  of  the  loser  in  the  fight  to  carry  his  sorrows 
with  him  to  a  home  that  is  no  home  in  a  strange 
land. 

In  this  Mr.  Kipling  is  at  odds  with  the  sense  of 
the  human  race.  Man  has  from  very  early  times 
regarded  the  fugitive  as  in  some  manner  a  sacred  per- 
son. He  has  provided  in  his  temples  and  his  churches 
a  sanctuary  where  the  pursuer  cannot  reach  him. 
Even  the  murderer  flying  from  justice  could  claim 
the  right  to  be  left  unharmed  when  once  he  had 
gained  the  seat  of  sanctuary  beside  the  altar.  So 
strong  is  the  human  instinct  for  punishment,  how- 
ever, that  the  right  of  sanctuary  was  in  many 
countries,  like  Germany,  denied  to  murderers  and 
other  criminals.  But  the  idea  of  a  sanctuary  or  some 
similar  place  of  refuge  prevailed  unto  comparatively 

37 


REFUGEES 

modern  times  in  most  countries.  The  criminals  of 
London  used  to  gather  and  defy  the  law  in  that  part 
of  the  city  which  lies  between  Fleet  Street  and  the 
Thames — Alsatia,  as  it  was  called.  Possibly  some 
instinct  in  us,  something  deeply  rooted  in  the  religi- 
ous spirit,  tells  us  that  we  are  all  in  some  sort 
refugees,  whether  we  picture  ourselves  as  flying  from 
the  Hound  of  Heaven  or  from  the  wrath  to  come. 
And  in  still  another  sense  the  human  race  has  often 
been  depicted  as  a  race  of  exiles.  We  are  exiles,  if 
not  fugitives,  from  the  perfect  city.  We  are  sojourners 
and  strangers  under  the  sun :  we  build  houses  of 
a  day  in  the  valleys  of  death.  There  seems  to  be  no 
patriotism  of  the  earth  for  many  of  those,  like  St. 
Paul,  whose  patriotism  is  in  Heaven.  Their  psalms 
and  hymns  are  like  native  songs  remembered  by 
those  who  will  admit  no  citizenship  here.  The 
saint  is  still  a  foreigner  in  every  land,  a  sorrowing 
refugee  from  skies  not  ours.  Most  of  us,  however, 
make  our  reconciliation  with  the  earth  and  become 
her  naturalised  subjects;  a  few,  like  Meredith,  even 
find  in  her  a  goddess  to  worship.  But  it  may  be 
doubted  whether  the  greatest  worldling  among  us 
is  not  sometimes  haunted  by  the  feeling  that  he  has 
no  home  on  the  earth  save  as  a  naturalised  alien. 

And  so,  in  the  last  analysis,  these  refugees,  with 
their  little  scraps  of  red,  yellow,  and  black  ribbon 
on  their  breasts,  who  run  into  us  at  every  street 
corner,  are  nearer  to  us  than  cousins ;  they  are  our 
images  and  shadows.  They  are  types  of  a  race 
that  comes  and  goes  like  the  swallows  and  have  no 
continuing  city  upon  earth.  They  are  doubly 
stricken,  however.  They  fly  from  a  double  doom. 
They  are  pursued  not  only  by  the  terror  of  death, 
but  by  the  terror  of  life.  They  are  poor,  blind 
things  in  a  rout,  broken  families,  mothers  who  have 
lost  their  children,  helpless  as  cattle  on  a  ship 
during  a  gale.  One  realises  something  of  the 

38 


REFUGEES 

endless  tragedy  of  their  case  when  ope  reads  how 
some  of  them  leave  notices  chalked  up  on  walls  and 
doors  along  the  roads  as  signals  to  their  friends : 

Pieter  Vaubelle  is  at  Putte. 
Jan  Dewilde,  come  home. 
Louis  Vernilge,  where  are  you  ? 

It  is  the  restoration  of  these  poor,  lost  creatures  to 
the  kingdom  of  their  old  lives  and  liberties  that  is 
the  object  for  which  one  most  immediately  and 
passionately  longs  in  this  war.  In  the  inhuman 
dispersal  of  the  Belgian  people  we  see  the  darkest 
condemnation  of  the  German  cause. 


39 


COWARD   CONSCIENCE 

It  is  impossible  to  follow  the  procession  of  excuses 
with  which  one  German  apologist  after  another 
attemps  to  justify  the  violation  of  Belgian  nation- 
ality— a  still  more  abominable  crime,  by  the  way, 
than  the  violation  of  Belgian  neutrality — without 
being  reminded  of  ^Esop's  fable  of  The  Wolf  and  the 
Lamb  : 

"  As  a  wolf  was  lapping  at  the  head  of  a  running 
brook  he  spied  a  stray  lamb  paddling  at  some 
distance  down  the  stream.  Having  made  up  his 
mind  to  seize  her,  he  bethought  himself  how  he 
might  justify  his  violence.  '  Villain !  '  said  he, 
running  up  to  her,  *  how  dare  you  muddle  the  water 
that  I  am  drinking?'  'Indeed,'  said  the  Lamb  humbly, 
'  I  do  not  see  how  I  can  disturb  the  water,  since  it 
runs  from  you  to  me,  not  from  me  to  you.'  '  Be 
that  as  it  may,'  replied  the  Wolf,  '  it  is  but  a  year 
ago  that  you  called  me  many  ill  names.'  'Oh,  sir!' 
said  the  Lamb,  trembling,  '  a  year  ago  I  was  not 
born.'  'Well,'  replied  the  Wolf,  'if  it  was  not  you 
it  was  your  father,  and  that  is  all  the  same ;  but  it 
is  no  use  trying  to  argue  me  out  of  my  supper ' — 
and  without  another  word  he  fell  upon  the  poor, 
helpless  Lamb  and  tore  her  to  pieces." 

"A  tyrant,"  runs  the  moral  of  the  story,  "can 
always  find  a  plea  for  his  tyranny." 

It  must  be  a  constant  source  of  amazement  to  the 
angels  that  so  few  of  us  mortals  have  the  courage  of 
our  crimes.  We  go  about  restlessly  seeking  some 
means  by  which  we  may  excuse  them  as  virtues. 

40 


COWARD  CONSCIENCE 

Not  one  in  a  million  of  us  can  lay  claim  to  the  "  robust 
conscience "  which  that  taloned  young  creature, 
Hilda  Wangel,  used  to  desire  in  her  heroes.  Our 
consciences  are  yellow  cowards  which  have  no  more 
appetite  for  sin  than  a  boy  in  the  preparatory  school 
for  plug  tobacco.  They  could  sit  down  heartily  to 
a  table  of  sins  so  long  as  these  were  cooked  into 
imitations  of  the  virtues,  just  as  any  of  us  might 
make  a  cheerful  enough  meal  on  the  flesh  of  horses 
or  cats  provided  they  were  disguised  as  oxtails  or 
rabbit  or  stewed  beans.  Every  one  has  heard  of 
the  man  who  had  eaten  a  plate  of  horseflesh  with 
relish  under  the  idea  that  it  was  Christian  food,  and 
who,  on  hearing  what  he  had  eaten,  at  once  became 
violently  sick.  Conscience  is  not  usually  so  squeam- 
ish as  that.  Having  by  error  got  its  teeth  into 
iniquity,  it  decides,  as  a  rule,  to  make  the  best  of 
a  bad  business — that  is,  to  pull  a  long  face  and  say 
no  more  about  it. 

But  why  is  it  that  we  cannot  be  honest  in  our 
immorality  ?  Why  is  that  we  cannot  say,  "  Evil,  be 
thou  my  good,"  and  openly  live  in  that  midnight 
philosophy  ?  It  may  be  that  we  are  afraid  of 
shocking  others  because  we  know  that  most  of  our 
plans  depend  upon  the  good  will  of  others  for 
their  accomplishment.  But  surely  it  would  be 
possible  to  found  a  secret  society  of  evil  men  who 
would  be  bound — by  self-interest,  if  not  by  the 
virtue  of  an  oath — to  push  each  other  to  success. 
I  cannot  think  it  is  entirely  the  opinion  of  others 
that  forces  us  all  to  study  with  such  passion  the 
grammar  and  accent  of  virtue.  It  is  for  our  own 
satisfaction,  and  not  for  our  neighbours,  that  we 
thus  practise  the  gait  and  speech  of  morality.  Let 
our  consciences  lose  their  hold  on  good — or,  at 
least,  the  pretence  of  it — and  we  feel  as  helpless  as  if 
we  were  in  a  ship  that  had  lost  its  rudder.  It  may 
be  only  nervousness  at  having  wandered  outside 

41 


COWARD  CONSCIENCE 

the  conventions  :  possibly  we  would  be  as  chicken- 
hearted  in  presence  of  new  virtues  as  of  new  sins. 
Even  so,  however,  our  alarm  before  new  virtues 
is  usually  due  to  the  fact  that  we  regard  them  as 
sins.  They  seem  like  outrages  on  the  standard  of 
virtue  under  which  we  are  gathered.  It  is  necessary 
to  our  peace  of  mind  that  we  should  never  feel  we 
have  betrayed  that  flag.  Everything  we  do  we 
must  be  able  to  represent  to  ourselves  as  something 
done  in  service  to  it.  Conscience  would  assail  us  as 
traitors  if  we  boldly  changed  our  allegiance  to  the 
flag  of  evil.  The  truth  is,  we  are  slaves  to  virtue — 
or  to  whatever  can  dress  itself  out  as  virtue — as  surely 
as  though  our  flesh  and  blood  had  been  sold  to  it  in 
some  savage  market-place. 

There  are  more  than  one  possible  explanations  of 
this  Egyptian  bondage.  It  may  be  the  result  of  a 
thirst  for  righteousness,  as  natural  as  our  thirst  for 
air.  Or  it  may  simply  be  due  to  fear  of  the 
penalties  for  ill-doing.  We  know  that  Nature  and 
society  have  each  their  retinue  of  spies  and  execu- 
tioners, and  that  neither  Nature  nor  society  is  likely 
to  let  us  off  until  they  have  exacted  the  uttermost 
farthing.  Probably  in  most  of  us,  there  is  an 
inconstant  balance  of  righteousness  and  fear.  It  is 
the  same  with  nations  and  individuals.  They  feel 
partly  a  desire  for  righteousness  and  partly  that 
they  can  only  betray  righteousness  at  their  peril. 
Man,  however,  has  been  a  deceiving  animal  ever 
since  he  made  acquaintance  with  the  serpent.  The 
history  of  magic  is  the  history  of  a  foolish  race 
which  has  always  believed  it  possible  to  make  an 
imitation  of  a  thing  which  would  be  as  good  in  most 
ways  as  the  thing  itself.  Imitative  magic  was 
supposed  to  command  the  heavens,  to  give  one 
power  over  one's  enemies,  to  deceive  the  listening 
gods.  If  you  called  a  child  by  a  name  not  its  own, 
it  was  believed  that  the  gods  would  not  know  of 

42 


COWARD  CONSCIENCE 

its  existence,  and  so  would  not  compass  its  death, 
just  as  if  we  call  sin  a  virtue,  we  still  believe  that 
the  gods  will  somehow  or  other  be  tricked,  and  will, 
therefore,  not  be  tempted  to  punish  it.  That  is 
how  it  comes  that  Germany  has  been  driven  to 
explain  that  her  invasion  of  Belgium  was  Russia's 
fault,  or  France's  fault,  or  England's  fault,  or  even 
Belgium's  fault ;  the  last  thing  she  is  willing  to 
admit  is  that  it  was  one  of  those  simple  selfish 
crimes  which  Empires  have  committed  over  and 
over  again,  since  the  day  on  which  the  first  con- 
queror led  out  his  naked  followers  with  their 
bloody  stone  hatchets.  Germany  calls  deliberate 
aggression  self-defence,  and  thinks  that  by  doing 
so  she  has  succeeded  in  squaring  things  with 
Rhadamanthus.  On  the  whole,  one  would  be  more 
inclined  to  respect  her  if  she  would  blaspheme 
Rhadamanthus  and  avow  herself  unjust  and  an 
unbeliever.  Or  would  one  not  ?  It  may  be  that 
one  gets  a  certain  comfort  from  seeing  a  nation 
taking  off  its  hat  to  justice  even  if  it  passes  by  on 
the  other  side. 

So  long  as  a  man  professes  a  belief  in  virtue,  we 
feel  that  at  least  we — who  also  profess  a  belief  in 
virtue — have  some  common  ground  upon  which  to 
argue.  To  attempt  to  make  the  worse  appear  the 
better  reason  is  in  itself  to  pay  a  sort  of  homage  to 
the  better  reason.  When  the  average  anti-Socialist 
used  to  denounce  Socialists  and  Trade  Unionists 
as  persons  who  would  interfere  with  freedom  of 
contract — the  freedom  of  the  worker  usually  being 
either  to  starve  or  to  take  what  was  offered  to  him — 
he  appealed  to  a  fine  ideal  in  a  false  way.  Men's 
consciences,  however  they  may  allow  them  to  throw 
justice  and  decency  to  the  winds  in  real  life,  will 
never  allow  them  to  throw  justice  and  decency  to 
the  winds  as  aids  to  an  argument.  They  are 
as  unscrupulous  in  their  profession  of  good  as  in 

43 


COWARD  CONSCIENCE 

their  practice  of  evil.  The  human  race  is  never  so 
dishonest  as  when  it  argues.  There  were  many 
admirable  examples  of  dishonesty  in  argument  during 
the  recent  fight  against  the  Home  Rule  Bill.  The 
only  argument  which  the  Unionists  did  not  use  was 
the  honest  argument  of  selfishness — the  argument 
that  Ireland  must  not  have  self-government  because 
they  believed  that  it  was  to  the  interest  of  their 
country  and  their  party  that  Ireland  should  remain 
in  subjection.  Instead  of  this  they  argued,  on  the 
one  hand,  that  Ireland  was  so  loyal  that  she  had 
ceased  to  want  Home  Rule,  and,  on  the  other,  that 
she  was  so  disloyal  that  she  wanted  separation. 
They  protested  that  Ireland  was  so  poor  that  she 
could  not  afford  Home  Rule,  and,  at  the  same  time, 
that  she  was  so  prosperous  that  she  did  not  need  it. 
They  declared  that  Ireland  enjoyed  equal  rights 
with  England  by  being  allowed  to  send  representa- 
tives to  a  Parliament  in  London,  yet  in  the  next 
breath  they  denied  that  Ulster  would  enjoy  equal 
rights  with  the  rest  of  Ireland  by  being  allowed  to 
send  representatives  to  a  Parliament  in  Dublin. 
They  ridiculed  the  idea  of  treating  Ireland  as  a 
separate  entity  and  swore  violently  when  anyone 
refused  to  treat  Ulster  as  a  separate  entity.  They 
urged  Protestants  to  fight  against  Home  Rule  on 
the  ground  that  it  would  hand  Ireland  over  to 
Popery,  and  they  urged  Catholics  to  fight  against 
Home  Rule  on  the  ground  that  it  would  hand  over 
Ireland  to  anti-clericalism,  ^sop's  Wolf  was  not 
half  so  ingenious  in  its  argument  with  the  Lamb  as 
these  Unionists  were  in  discovering  new  reasons 
for  making  a  meal  of  Ireland.  And  the  worst  of  it 
is,  so  little  active  intelligence  do  even  the  virtuous 
possess,  that  many  sincere  and  kindly  people  were 
taken  in  by  this  sleight-of-tongue.  That  is  what 
drives  one  to  despair.  No  honest  Englishman  could 
have  used  such  arguments  for  the  subjection  of 

44 


COWARD  CONSCIENCE 

Ireland,  just  as  no  honest  German  could  use  the 
ordinary  Prussian  arguments  for  the  overrunning 
of  Belgium.  But  it  is  always  possible  to  invent  a 
case  by  which  any  number  of  sincere  and  kindly 
people  will  be  taken  in.  We  who  are  able  to  see 
the  tragedy  of  King  Lear  as  a  whole  are  not  likely 
to  take  sides  against  him  with  his  cruel  daughters. 
But  suppose  we  had  been  his  contemporaries.  How 
could  we  have  withstood  the  sweet  reasonableness 
of  Goneril's  statement  of  her  side  of  the  case  for 
getting  rid  of  the  old  man  and  his  retinue : 

"  I  do  beseech  you 
To  understand  my  purposes  aright : 
As  you  are  old  and  reverend,  you  should  be  wise, 
Here  do  you  keep  a  hundred  knights  and  squires ; 
Men  so  disorder'd,  so  debosh'd  and  bold, 
That  this  our  court,  infected  with  their  manners, 
Shows  like  a  riotous  inn  :  epicurism  and  lust 
Make  it  more  like  a  tavern  or  a  brothel 
Than  a  graced  palace.     The  shame  itself  doth  speak 
For  instant  remedy." 

There  you  have  coward  conscience,  eloquent  and 
plausible,  afraid  of  nothing  except  of  admitting  the 
truth.  Not  one  in  a  million  Gonerils  will  say 
straight  out :  "  I  have  the  power  and  mean  to  use 
it.  I  regard  everyone  of  whom  I  can  make  no  use 
as  a  nuisance,  and  will  get  rid  of  him  as  I  would  of 
the  body  of  a  dead  dog."  Goneril  could  not  have 
said  that,  even  in  the  phrasing  of  a  Shakespeare, 
without  feeling  a  good  deal  more  of  a  devil  than 
she  did  feel  and  making  herself  unhappy.  We  can 
always  remain  moderately  happy  so  long  as  we  are 
able  to  keep  up  the  pretence  that  we  are  doing 
right.  That  is  what  we  call  having  a  good  con- 
science. Very  few  of  us  have  the  honesty  or  the 
common  sense  to  see  that  to  have  a  good  conscience 

45 


COWARD  CONSCIENCE 

when  one  is  not  doing  good  is  merely  to  double 
one's  sin.  It  is  far  better  to  have  no  conscience  at 
all.  We  may  be  sure  that  the  statesmen  of  Germany 
have  a  perfectly  good  conscience  in  regard  to 
Belgium :  that  is  the  worst  of  them.  A  good  con- 
science is  almost  as  easy  to  get  as  a  bad  reputation. 
Nor  have  the  Germans  a  monopoly  of  it.  There 
has  always  been  a  tremendous  demand  for  it  in 
England,  too,  ever  since  Henry  VIII.  cleared  his 
conscience  by  abjuring  the  errors  of  Rome.  Those 
Englishmen  who  ordered  native  Indians  to  be  tied 
to  the  mouths  of  cannon  and  blown  from  them  did 
so,  beyond  a  doubt,  with  a  good  conscience.  Even 
Bernhardi,  who  has  a  great  name  for  callous 
Machiavellianism,  continually  pauses  to  wag  his 
good  conscience  at  us,  and  to  explain  what  benefits 
the  forcible  extension  of  German  culture  will  bestow 
upon  the  world  at  large.  On  the  whole,  the  nation 
or  the  man  with  a  bad  conscience  is  in  the  more 
hopeful  condition.  A  bad  conscience  is  a  conscience 
that,  however  nervously,  is  facing  the  facts.  Is 
there  a  single  nation  in  the  world  that  has  a  bad 
conscience  at  the  present  moment  ?  If  there  is,  let  it 
hold  up  its  hand ;  it  is  the  hope  of  the  human  race. 


46 


ON  DOING  NOTHING 

Sometimes  one  looks  forward  to  a  holiday  as  a 
period  of  entire  laziness.     One  longs  to  do  nothing 
— to  lie  in  the  sun  on  the  edge  of  sleep — to  be  no 
more   awake   than   is   necessary   to  enable   one  to 
enjoy  the  consciousness  of  one's  nine-tenths  slumber. 
So   one  builds  oneself  a  castle   of  indolence   high 
above  the  echoes  of  the  working  world.     One  is  glad 
above  all  to  escape  from  the  groaning  and  grunting  of 
wheeled  things,  which  is  the  music  of  the  modern 
city.     One  desires  to  get  away  from  that  rasping, 
lumbering  activity  of  trousered  mortals,  which  is  so 
unlike  the  careless  activity  of  the  angels,  so  far  as 
authorities  instruct  us  on  the  matter.      Eye,  nose 
and  ear  are,  all  of  them,  violated  a  thousand  times  a 
day  in  the  streets  of  the  moneymakers.     No  flower 
blooms  from  the  walls  of  the  Bank  of  England ;  wild 
roses   do   not   grow  in   the    Strand;    larks   do   not 
challenge  the   sky  from    the   asphalt   of  Trafalgar 
Square.      Instead,   one   has  the   sound   of    wheels 
and  hooters,  the  smell  of  petrol  and  bars  and  tea- 
shops   and   dog-shops    and    chemists    and    human 
beings,  the  contact  with  men  and  women  who  are 
less  real  to  one  than  figures  in  a  dream,  the  spectacle 
of  a  multitude  of  hats  and  trousers  and  skirts,  of 
shop-fronts  with  ever  so  commonplace  letters  over 
the  window,  of  traffic  discoloured  and  confused,  of 
policemen,    of    old    men    selling    the    Westminster 
Gazette,  of  hearse  and   prison-van,  of  waste-paper 
and  dust-cart,  of  posters  of  revues  that  are  mere 
vulgar    aphrodisiacs,    of    creatures-that-once-were- 
men    selling     matches     and     bootlaces,     of     cats 
crossing  the  road,  of  milkmen  that  make  a  noise 

47 


ON  DOING  NOTHING 

like  some  obscene  fowl.  It  is  the  most  infernal 
medley  the  world  has  ever  seen.  It  is  quite  unlike 
the  medley  of  a  fair,  which  is  a  holiday  from  the 
month's  quietness  and  which  is  after  all  for  the 
most  part  idleness  and  a  game.  A  fair  is  the 
concentration  of  a  countryside,  a  gathering  of  the 
farms.  It  is  as  full  of  animals  as  a  menagerie,  and 
the  men  and  women  at  it  are  as  interesting  as  the 
animals.  Some  people  find  in  the  day-long  conflict 
of  town  streets  an  even  greater  fascination.  They 
see  in  the  town  a  permanent  fair,  with  juggler 
and  clown  and  ballad-singer  no  longer  in  the 
market-place  but  in  the  music  hall,  with  shops 
taking  the  place  of  booths,  and  with  a  thousand 
concerns  scarred  and  printed  on  the  faces  of  those 
who  pass  by  such  as  the  countryman  never  knows. 
Even  so,  the  fascination  of  town  is  a  fascination 
that  exhausts.  And  the  burden  of  money-making 
is  on  too  many  shoulders,  the  noise  of  money- 
making  in  too  many  ears.  There  is  no  leisure  in 
this  quest.  It  is  all  a  songless  procession  of  men 
and  women  who  have  forgotten  the  fields  and  have 
not  yet  found  the  city  of  God. 

One  feels  at  times  that  one  must  escape  from  this 
procession  at  all  costs,  and  fly  back  into  the  country. 
One  feels  (to  change  the  image)  that  the  harrows 
of  the  day's  work  have  broken  one  sufficiently,  and 
one  would  gladly  lie  fallow.  And  yet,  when  it 
conies  to  the  point,  there  is  not  one  man  in  a 
thousand  who  can  acquire  the  perfect  habit  of 
idleness.  Some  men  are  so  bound  to  the  interests 
of  townsmen  that  the  holiday  they  prefer  is  a  visit 
to  strange  cities.  They  hasten  through  art  galleries 
and  museums  and  churches  and  historic  buildings 
between  meal  and  meal.  They  follow  the  beaten 
track  with  enthusiasm,  not  for  anything  that  it  leads 
them  to,  but  simply  because  it  is  the  beaten  track. 
They  reckon  up  the  spoils  of  the  day  by  number 

48 


ON  DOING  NOTHING 

and  not  for  their  beauty.  Their  greatest  delight  is 
to  be  a  part  of  the  crowd,  to  share  its  excitement,  its 
movement,  its  flow  of  life.  There  are,  I  do  not 
deny,  persons  who  make  holiday  in  cities,  not  as 
particles  of  a  crowd,  but  as  individuals.  But  these 
are  exceptions,  and  as  a  rule  are  persons  of  some 
leisure  who  are  not  too  closely  penned  in  streets 
during  the  working  months  of  the  year.  Even 
among  those  who  choose  the  sea  for  a  holiday  there 
are  few  who  are  content  with  mere  indolence.  In- 
dolence to  most  of  them  means  another  hour  in  bed 
in  the  morning,  and  no  man  giving  them  orders 
during  the  day.  If  they  were  asked  to  be  idler  than 
that  they  would  yawn  their  heads  off  before  the 
evening  of  the  first  day.  There  must  be  a  theatre, 
where  they  can  book  seats  for  Daredevil  Dorothy. 
They  would  be  unhappy  without  moving  pictures, 
and  a  pier  with  a  band  playing,  and  winter-gardens, 
and  tea-shops,  and  a  dancing-hall.  They  eat  a 
five-course  dinner  while  the  sun  is  setting,  and 
while  the  twilight  is  changing  the  colours  of  the 
world  they  play  auction-bridge  in  the  hotel  drawing- 
room.  With  them,  too,  a  holiday  consists  principally 
in  exchanging  one  crowd  for  another — in  mixing 
with  a  crowd  that  is  spending  money  instead  of 
with  a  crowd  that  is  earning  it.  I  do  not  pretend 
to  be  untouched  myself  by  this  love  of  crowds, 
especially  of  crowds  that  are  spending  money,  and 
are,  therefore,  living  not  as  they  have  to  live,  but 
as  they  desire  to  live.  But  I  would  not  choose  their 
company  for  a  retreat  into  idleness. 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  true  idleness  is  scarcely 
possible  for  a  rational  being.  One  may  try  to 
achieve  it  by  lying  in  bed  all  day,  but  even  if  one 
lies  in  bed  till  dinner-time  one  will  be  busying 
oneself  about  the  sights  of  the  streets  at  midnight, 
and  exhibiting  strange  energy  in  cafe's  and  at  coffee- 
stalls.  Stevenson  preached  idleness  to  a  less  driven 

49  E 


ON  DOING  NOTHING 

world  than  ours,  but  he  himself  was  not  idle.  On 
the  contrary,  with  his  reading-book  in  one  pocket 
and  his  note-book  in  another,  he  now  seems  to  us 
a  character  almost  worthy  of  the  pen  of  Samuel 
Smiles.  The  perfect  idler  would  never  be  at  the 
pains  to  write  his  apology.  The  Stevensons  and 
the  Thoreaus  are  merely  humbugs  when  they  pre- 
tend to  be  more  indolent  than  shopkeepers.  Even 
the  laziest  of  us  cannot  go  on  a  holiday  without 
waking  into  some  kind  of  activity  a  hundred  times 
a  day.  We  lie,  sheltered  from  the  wind,  on  a  slope 
of  heather  above  the  sea,  oblivious  of  the  world  and 
the  world's  war.  A  little  boat  appears  below  us 
with  two  men  in  it  hauling  in  a  brown  net  over  the 
stern.  We  cannot  help  bestirring  ourselves.  We 
cannot  help  watching  for  the  bulge  in  the  net  and 
the  silver  shape  where  a  fish  is  entangled.  We 
count  every  leap  in  the  net  as  it  is  gathered  into 
the  boat.  We  take  part  in  the  energy  of  the  fisher- 
men. We  notice  that  one  of  them  is  wearing  boots 
that  are  large  and  bright.  We  look  again  and  see 
he  is  a  village  policeman.  The  men  land  at  a  boat- 
slip  and  haul  their  net  on  to  the  stone.  They  untie 
a  thousand  knots  with  infinite  patience,  and  after 
each  untying  throw  a  fish  to  flap  its  tail  on  the 
ground.  Then  the  policeman  carefully  takes  hold 
of  a  long,  lean,  white-bellied  dog-fish,  and  without 
mercy  dashes  its  head  against  a  rock  and  flings  it 
back  dead  into  the  sea.  A  few  knots  later,  he  takes 
out  a  sea-urchin  like  a  little  pink  hedgehog  and 
holds  it  high  up  for  us  to  look  at.  Our  indolence 
has  been  broken  in  upon.  We  cannot  be  indifferent 
to  such  happenings.  Next,  we  hear  a  chirrup  like 
a  cricket's  a  few  yards  behind  us.  We  look  round 
and  see  it  is  a  bird  fluttering  from  stone  to  stone. 
We  wonder  what  bird  it  is — whether  it  is  a  stone- 
chat.  A  long,  bright  green  insect,  a  sort  of  beetle, 
with  gold  spots  on  its  wings,  flies  among  the  grass- 

50 


ON  DOING  NOTHING 

blades  near  us,  and  again  arouses  our  inquisitiveness. 
We  have  not  even  the  satisfaction  of  being  able  to 
give  a  name,  though  it  be  a  wrong  name,  to  him — 
surely  one  of  the  lasting  happinesses  of  life.  We 
call  him  vaguely  a  green  beetle,  but  we  know  that 
he  will  haunt  us  all  our  days  until  we  are  able  to 
pin  a  more  definite  noun  upon  him.  Another  beetle 
passes  along  a  footpath  in  the  grass,  mirroring 
green  and  blue  in  its  ugly  body.  Everwhere  the 
day  is  thronged  with  events.  One  cannot  move  a 
step  without  coming  upon  some  peeping  orchis, 
blue  as  a  violet  and  tinier,  or  upon  other  larger 
orchises  with  blossoms  curiously  marked  so  that 
they  seem  to  be  standing  about  in  cotton-print 
frocks.  And  if  one  looks  from  one  flower  to  another 
one  finds  always  a  little — an  excitingly  little — change 
in  the  pattern.  Heather  has  begun  to  bloom,  and 
heath-bells  ring  on  all  sides  as  one  walks,  and  the 
bog-myrtle  is  fragrant  as  one's  foot  presses  on  it. 
Scabious  blue  as  the  sea  edges  the  cliff;  the  lesser 
celandine  and  shepherd's  purses  sprinkle  the  world 
with  gold  ;  and  yellow  irises  dance  in  the  wind  like 
Wordsworth's  daffodils.  Everywhere  the  bog-cotton 
rises  with  its  three  white  plumes,  sometimes  nodding 
like  the  plumes  in  a  warrior's  helmet,  sometimes 
waving  like  the  pennons  of  a  lance.  It  seems  in 
the  wind  like  some  fairy  host  advancing  with 
banners  streaming.  If  one  opens  one's  eyes  at 
all  there  is  no  escape  from  the  miracle  of  the 
flowers. 

And  one  is  continually  compelled  to  open  one's 
eyes.  No  man  on  hearing  a  lark  singing  between 
two  hills  can  help  looking  up  to  see  where  it  flutters 
and  dances  on  its  wings.  One  gazes  at  it  as  the 
heart  of  all  music,  the  expression  of  the  world's 
happiness.  Everywhere  in  field  and  farm  one 
sees  animals  doomed  to  die  violent  deaths — the 
servile  brood  of  hens,  sheep  that  move  like  a  gang 


ON  DOING  NOTHING 

of  slaves,  geese  with  their  necks  stretched  in  a  pre- 
tence of  valour,  black  cattle  that  graze  on  the  distant 
mountainside  looking  like  little  wooden  figures 
out  of  a  Noah's  Ark,  young  turkeys  with  humped 
backs  and  plaintive  cries,  pigs  that  are  jests  in  the 
flesh  from  their  grunting  snouts  to  their  curled 
tails,  calves  that  never  smile  even  when  they  frisk 
like  dervishes.  But  over  them  all  dances  the  lark 
in  the  air,  an  optimist,  a  reconciler.  And  the 
world  is  well  worth  a  song.  Down  the  side  of  the 
mountain  the  sunlight  flows  like  running  water, 
chased  by  a  shadow.  Below  lies  the  sea,  variable 
in  colours  as  a  pigeon's  neck — repeating  the  crowded 
sky.  Everywhere  are  hills — blue  hills  in  the  dis- 
tance, purple  hills  after  rain,  scarred  and  shining 
green  hills  near  at  hand,  rosy  hills  in  the  last  light 
of  the  sun,  brown  hills  in  the  twilight.  Down  from 
the  sides  of  them  at  night  red  foxes  scatter — poultry 
fanciers.  On  the  lonely  beach  a  lonely  seagull 
stands.  The  village  of  white  cottages  on  the 
shoulder  of  the  cliff  huddles  in  the  gathering  dark- 
ness like  a  flock  of  sleepy  birds.  There  will  be 
no  real  darkness  to-night,  for  a  half-moon  has 
climbed  above  the  hill,  making  the  white  house  at 
the  bottom  of  the  sloping  field  glimmer  like  a  spirit. 
Under  its  benediction  one  goes  upstairs  to  sleep. 
One  is  ready  to  sleep,  for  one  has  been  exceedingly 
busy  all  day  .  .  .  doing  nothing. 


RUTHLESSNESS 

Germany  seems  to  be  the  only  country  in  Europe 
at  present  in  which  the  soldiers  are  as  ferocious  as 
the  journalists.  Perhaps  this  is  because  in  Germany 
so  many  of  the  soldiers  are  journalists.  So  far 
as  one  can  gather  from  the  descriptions  of  the 
Christmas  truce  on  the  battlefield,  the  common 
German  soldier,  is,  like  the  soldier  of  other  nations, 
a  human  being  who  is  much  more  inclined  by 
nature  to  friendliness  than  to  hatred.  But  the 
scribbling  German  soldier,  or  the  scribbling  Ger- 
man sailor — who  is  almost  always  a  general  or 
an  admiral — is  as  excitably  ferocious  as  anything 
you  could  find  in  Fleet  Street.  He  is  about  on 
the  level  of  the  Nonconformist  journalist  who 
recently  spoke  with  withering  scorn  of  those  of  his 
fellow-Christians  who  still  believed  in  praying  for 
their  enemies.  This  is,  one  may  admit,  the  ancient 
logic  of  fighting.  The  pagan  in  each  of  us  wishes 
to  give  his  enemies  hell,  not  only  in  this  world, 
but  in  the  next.  When  the  tipsy  Orangeman  shouts 
"To  Hell  with  the  Pope!"  he  probably  expresses 
with  perfect  accuracy  his  opinion  of  the  punishment 
which  he  thinks  the  Pope  deserves ;  and  I  have 
heard  a  devout  Catholic,  at  mention  of  Tom  Paine, 
say  with  grim  satisfaction :  "  He's  sizzling  in  Hell 
now."  If  we  can  wish  our  enemies  torture  that 
will  last  through  eternity,  it  seems  rather  absurd 
that  we  should  be  squeamish  about  causing  them 
such  pain  and  misery  as  we  can  during  the  brief 
interval  of  their  habitation  of  the  earth. 

Our  ancestors  certainly  did  not  shrink  from  the 
logic  of  punishment  as  regards  either  this  world 

53 


RUTHLESSNESS 

or  the  next.  The  history  of  penal  methods,  whether 
in  England,  France,  Spain,  or  China,  is  a  history 
of  ruthlessness  which  is  at  times  so  horrible  as  to 
seem  almost  ludicrous.  Ruthlessness,  it  was  usually 
assumed,  was  the  only  safe  way  of  protecting 
society  against  its  enemies.  Ruthlessness,  the 
Count  von  Reventlows  seem  to  assume  at  the 
present  moment,  is  the  only  safe  way  of  protecting 
Germany  against  its  enemies.  It  is  not  apparently 
a  matter  of  revenge  so  much  as  of  policy.  They 
defend  the  burning  of  Louvain,  the  shooting  of 
hostages,  the  bombardment  of  undefended  towns, 
the  torpedoing  of  merchant  ships  and  sending  of  their 
crews  to  the  bottom,  not  as  glorious  acts  of  national 
hatred,  but  as  the  only  means  of  terrorising  the 
Allies  into  submission.  One  would  imagine  that, 
if  ruthlessness  has  been  found. ineffective  as  a  means 
of  suppressing  badly  armed  and  badly  equipped 
criminals,  it  must  be  found  still  more  ineffective 
as  a  means  of  suppressing  well-armed  and  well- 
equipped  nations.  And  when  the  history  of  the 
present  war  comes  to  be  written,  I  shall  be  sur- 
prised if  even  the  German  historians  will  not  be 
found  admitting  that  every  act  of  inhumanity  of 
which  their  army  was  guilty  only  resulted  in  adding 
to  the  number  and  strength  of  their  enemies. 
There  are  Germans  who  point  to  the  comparative 
peace  and  quiet  which  at  present  reign  in  Belgium 
as  a  proof  of  the  wisdom  of  German  policy.  But 
no  one  will  deny  that  a  people  may  for  a  time  be 
intimidated  into  silence  by  ruthlessness.  What  I 
do  deny  is  that  Germany  is  a  step  nearer  victory  as 
a  result  of  her  ruthlessness.  The  ruthlessness  of 
Germany,  we  may  be  sure,  did  much  to  strengthen 
King  Albert  and  his  government  in  their  determi- 
nation to  hold  out  to  the  last  minute  in  Antwerp 
and  to  allow  neither  themselves  nor  their  stores, 
neither  their  docks  nor  their  shipping,  to  fall  into 

54 


RUTHLESSNESS 

the  hands  of  pitiless  enemies.  Germany,  indeed, 
by  her  conduct  in  Belgium  raised  not  only  Belgium, 
but  half  the  world,  against  her.  There  are  thousands 
of  Englishmen,  Scotsmen,  and  Irishmen  now  being 
trained  to  fight  against  Germany  who  would  still 
be  sitting  at  home  reading  the  newspapers  if  Ger- 
many had  not  forced  herself  on  their  imaginations 
as  a  big  bully  torturing  a  people  smaller  than 
herself. 

Whether  bullying  ever  pays  or  not  is  a  question 
which  it  is  not  easy  to  answer.  Clearly,  there  has 
always  been  a  great  deal  of  bullying  in  the  relations 
between  strong  and  weak  peoples,  as  there  has  been 
in  the  relations  between  strong  and  weak  men.  The 
big  Empire  has  not  won  its  way  to  its  present 
position  by  what  is  called  brotherly  love  any  more 
than  the  big  landlord  or  the  big  manufacturer  has. 
On  the  other  hand,  there  is  all  the  difference  in  the 
world  between  bullying  within  limits  and  bullying 
without  mercy.  The  Roman  Republic  bullied  its 
provinces  without  mercy;  the  Roman  Empire  by 
comparison  bullied  them  within  limits.  The  merci- 
less sort  of  bully  ing  has  usually  been  done  either  in  the 
name  of  religion  or  in  the  name  of  culture.  Nearly 
all  the  great  acts  of  mercilessness  which  stain  the 
pages  of  history  were  interpreted  in  terms  of  some 
lofty  purpose  like  that  with  which  the  German  apolo- 
gists justify  their  creed  of  ruthlessness  to-day.  Alva 
felt  no  pangs  of  remorse  for  his  cruelties  in  the 
Low  Countries.  On  the  contrary,  he  boasted  that, 
apart  from  all  the  thousands  he  had  slain  in  battle 
and  massacred  afterwards,  he  had  delivered  over 
18,000  people  to  the  executioner.  Almost  certainly, 
at  the  time,  he  had  no  doubt  that  he  was  establish- 
ing Spanish  and  Catholic  culture  in  the  Low 
Countries  for  ever.  But  what  remains  of  Spain 
and  her  conquering  hosts  in  those  parts  now  ? 
Nothing  but  a  memory  and  a  reviling.  It  would 

55 


RUTHLESSNESS 

be  straining  language  a  little,  however,  to  describe 
Alva's  "  Court  of  Blood  "  as  a  crime  of  culture.    We 
find  a  much  better  example  of  the  ruthlessness  of 
culture   in   the   scarcely   less   famous   massacre   of 
Glencoe.     Here  was  a  crime  plotted  by  a  statesman 
as  civilized  as  the  most  civilized  of  Germans.     The 
Master  of  Stair,  as  Macaulay  says,  was  "  one  of  the 
first  men  of  his  time,  a  jurist,  a  statesman,  a  fine 
scholar,  an  eloquent  orator."     He  was  good-natured, 
not  disposed  to  cruelty,  had  "  no  personal  reason 
to  wish  the  Glencoe  men  any  ill,"  and   "  there  is 
not  the  slightest  reason  to  believe  that  he  gained 
a  single  pound  Scots  by  the  act  which  has  covered 
his  name  with  infamy."  His  aim  in  planning  the  most 
treacherous  of  crimes  was  neither  personal  greed  nor 
personal  glory.  "  His  object,"  continues  the  historian, 
"  was  no  less  than  a  complete  dissolution  and  re- 
construction of  society  in  the  Highlands.     .     .     . 
This  explanation  may  startle  those  who  have  not 
considered  how  large  a  proportion  of  the  blackest 
crimes  recorded  in  history  is  to  be  ascribed  to  ill- 
regulated  public  spirit.     We  daily  see  men  do  for 
their  party,  for  their  sect,  for  their  country,  for 
their   favourite   schemes   of  political   and    social 
reform,  what  they  would  not  do  to  enrich  or  to 
avenge  themselves.      At  a  temptation  directly  ad- 
dressed to  our  private  cupidity  or  to  our  private 
animosity,  whatever  virtue  we  have  takes  alarm. 
But  virtue  itself  may  contribute  to  the  fall  of  him 
who  imagines  that  it  is  in  his  power,  by  violating 
some    general    rule    of    morality,    to    confer   an 
important   benefit   on   a   church,  or  a   common- 
wealth, or  mankind.      He  silences    the  remons- 
trances   of  conscience,    and   hardens    his    heart 
against  the  most  touching  spectacles  of  misery, 
by   repeating  to  himself  that  his  intentions    are 
pure,  that  his  objects  are  noble,  that  he  is  doing 
a  little  evil  for  the  sake  of  a  great  good." 

56 


RUTHLESSNESS 

Public  spirit,  therefore,  is  not  only  one  of  the  most 
splendid  virtues  ;  it  may  also  be  one  of  the  most 
dangerous  vices.  It  is  a  vice  on  the  part  of  every 
man  who  does  not  realize  that  it  is  as  easy  to  disgrace 
one's  country  or  one's  party  as  it  is  to  disgrace 
oneself  by  certain  forms  of  wickedness.  The 
German  theory  of  the  State,  however,  is  that  it  is 
something  which,  like  the  superman,  is  beyond  good 
and  evil.  From  this  point  of  view,  the  State  can  do 
no  wrong.  It  is  capable  of  but  one  virtue — power  ; 
and  of  one  sin — feebleness.  Those  who  admit 
this  theory  of  the  State  obviously  need  not  be  dis- 
turbed even  if  one  accuses  them,  in  their  public 
capacity,  of  all  the  crimes  in  the  Newgate  Calendar. 
As  a  matter  of  fact  the  Germans  are  seriously  dis- 
turbed by  some  of  the  accusations  that  have  been 
made  against  them.  One  day  they  preach  ruthless- 
ness,  and  the  next  day  they  spend  in  proving  that 
they  have  not  been  ruthless  at  all.  They  are  scarcely 
more  bent  upon  defying  the  laws  of  war  than  upon 
proving  that  they  have  all  along  scrupulously 
observed  the  laws  of  war.  The  truth  is,  their 
theory  of  the  State  is  the  invention  of  their  heads, 
not  of  their  consciences,  and  they  find  themselves 
compelled  to  salute  virtue  even  as  they  advocate  new 
crimes. 

One  of  the  most  interesting  examples  of  a  govern- 
ment's refusing  to  adopt  a  policy  of  ruthlessness  has 
been  resuscitated  lately  in  more  than  one  quarter. 
This  was  the  refusal  of  the  British  Govern- 
ment during  the  Napoleonic  Wars  to  adopt  Lord 
Cochrane's  "  secret  war  plan  "  for  the  total  destruc- 
tion of  the  enemy's  fleet.  The  Government  Com- 
mittee which  considered  the  plan  reported  that  it 
was  effective,  but  recommended  its  rejection  on  the 
ground  that  it  was  inhuman.  At  the  time  of  the 
Crimean  War,  Cochrane — or,  as  he  then  was,  Dun- 
donald — revived  his  proposals,  but  again  they  were 

57 


RUTHLESSNESS 

rejected.  One  wonders  what  they  were.  Were  they 
really  an  anticipation  of  poison  gas  ?  One  would 
like  to  know  what  were  the  limits  thus  officially  set 
to  the  ruthlessness  of  war.  Certainly  England  has 
never  been  in  want  of  advocates  of  ruthlessness. 
Mr.  Norman  Angell — with  whom  one  may  agree  or 
disagree  on  general  grounds — quotes  several  apt 
examples  from  British  military  writers  in  his  book, 
Prussianism  and  its  Destruction.  Thus  Major  Stewart 
Murray,  in  The  Future  Peace  of  the  Anglo-Saxons, 
which  won  the  praise  of  Lord  Roberts,  derides  "  the 
sanctity  of  international  law  "  as  fiercely  as  any 
Prussian  could,  and  inveighs  against  "  sickening 
humanitarianism."  Dr.  Miller  Maguire,  again,  is 
quoted  as  having  written  in  the  Times  during  the 
Boer  War :  "  The  proper  strategy  consists  in  the 
first  place  in  inflicting  as  terrible  blows  as  possible 
upon  the  enemy's  army,  and  then  in  causing  the  in- 
habitants so  much  suffering  that  they  must  long 
for  peace  and  force  their  Government  to  demand  it. 
The  people  must  be  left  with  nothing  but  their  eyes  to 
weep  with  over  the  war."  This  last  phrase,  which  I 
believe  is  taken  from  Tilly,  has  been  quoted  several 
times  during  the  present  war  as  Bismarck's,  and  has 
been  condemned  in  accents  of  horror  as  an  example 
of  the  atrocious  Prussian  theory  of  war.  One  knows 
very  well  that  when  Dr.  Miller  Maguire  used  it  he 
did  not  mean  to  justify  the  horrors  of  Belgium  or  a 
slaughter  of  unarmed  men  and  women  at  Scar- 
borough and  Whitby.  But  if  we  admit  that  his 
sentiment  is  just,  how  can  we  logically  protest 
against  these  outrages  ?  What  are  the  limits  of 
ruthlessness  ?  Where  are  we  to  draw  the  line  ?  It 
seems  to  me  that  the  line  is  a  rather  vague  one.  I 
hold,  however,  that  in  waging  war  every  nation  must 
make  up  its  mind  to  choose  between  the  policy  of 
"  the  less  ruthlessness  the  better  "  and  "  the  more 
ruthlessness  the  better";  and  that  deliberately  to 

58 


RUTHLESSNESS 

choose  the  latter  is  a  crime  against  the  human  race. 
Spain  of  the  Inquisition,  Turkey  of  the  Armenian 
atrocities — these  are  supreme  examples  of  ruthless- 
ness,  and  they  are  clear  enough  proof  that  ruthless- 
ness  does  not  necessarily  lead  to  national  greatness. 
England  in  Elizabethan  and  Georgian  Ireland  is 
another  instance  of  ruthlessness,  and  has  not  English 
policy  in  Ireland  been  her  crowning  failure  ?  Ruth- 
lessness, no  doubt,  has  its  victories  no  less  renowned 
than  mercy.  But,  on  the  whole,  the  history  of 
ruthlessness  is  not  a  history  of  triumph,  but  a  history 
of  imbecility. 


Credulous  rationalists  used  to  believe  that  myths 
were  largely  the  invention  of  priests.  That  belief  has 
been  slain  by  the  anthropologists,  who  perceive 
that  myths  have  grown  up  everywhere  not  as  delib- 
erate impostures,  but  as  the  curly-headed  children 
of  good  faith.  Even  the  anthropoligists,  however, 
are  inclined  to  regard  them  as  the  perversities  of 
people  very  unlike  and  inferior  to  ourselves,  called 
savages.  One  writer  on  the  subject  speaks  of  "  the 
very  peculiar  mental  condition  of  the  lower  races," 
and  quotes  Max  Miiller's  question  in  regard  to  the 
primitive  ages  during  which  myths  are  invented : 
"  Was  there  a  period  of  temporary  madness  through 
which  the  human  mind  had  to  pass,  and  was  it  a 
madness  identically  the  same  in  the  south  of  India 
and  the  north  of  Iceland  ?  "  We  need  only  reflect 
for  a  moment  on  the  myths  already  produced  by  the 
European  war  to  corne  to  the  conclusion  either  that 
the  savage  is  not  so  mad  as  he  looks  or  that  we  also 
are  more  than  a  little  mad.  Surely,  it  was  out  of 
"  a  very  peculiar  mental  condition  "  that  the  myth 
of  the  30,000  or  70,000  or  250,000  Russians  who 
passed  through  England  on  their  way  to  Belgium 
and  France  was  born.  And  we  may  say  the  same 
of  the  myth  of  the  Belgian  children  with  their  hands 
and  feet  cut  off  by  Prussian  soldiers,  the  myth  of 
Lord  Haldane's  treachery,  and  half  a  dozen  other 
myths  of  the  moment,  which  are  passionately  believed 
in  tens  of  thousands  of  British  households.  We 
know  that  in  pious  German  homes  myths  of  the 
same  kind  have  taken  the  place  of  Grimm's  Fairy 
Tales.  I  have  no  doubt  that  in  France,  in  Russia,  in 

60 


MYTHS 

Serbia,  in  Hungary  and  in  Japan  the  war  is  produc- 
ing an  equally  remarkable  folklore.  Now  this  is  not 
the  work  of  priests  or  of  people  whom  missionaries 
would  describe  as  savages.  It  is  not  even — except 
in  the  case  of  the  Haldane  myth — the  work  of  news- 
papers. It  is  for  the  most  part  simply  the  work  of 
the  popular  imagination,  which,  far  more  fiercely 
than  Nature,  abhors  a  vacuum.  Ever  since  the 
world  began,  the  popular  imagination  has  been  busily 
pouring  into  one  vacuum  after  another  all  manner  of 
beautiful  and  terrible  and  absurd  things.  It  works 
with  the  dreadful  persistence  of  an  insect  giving  its 
bowels  to  its  task.  It  will  not  rest  until  it  has  filled 
the  throne  of  the  universe  and  replenished  with 
strange  details  the  lives  of  great  men  and  has  made 
every  hollow  in  our  knowledge  of  places  and  people 
and  things  a  little  hilly  hive  of  buzzing  and  tumul- 
tuous fancies.  It  does  not  love  untruth  more  than 
truth,  but  neither  does  it  love  truth  more  than  un- 
truth. It  makes  use  of  every  shade  of  both,  as  an 
artist  uses  his  paints.  Its  aim  is  to  convert  life  into 
a  series  of  thrills,  pictures,  decorations  and  dramas 
instead  of  a  mere  formulated  confession  of  ignorance. 
It  is  no  more  willing  to  say,  "  I  don't  know,"  than 
the  traditional  Irish  peasant  of  whom  you  inquire 
the  distance  to  some  place  or  other  about  which  he 
knows  as  little  as  he  knows  about  Constantinople. 
Far  from  being  agnostic,  it  is  positive,  creative — even 
riotously  so.  It  does  not  scribble  "  Why  ?  "  all  over 
the  heavens  and  the  earth  as  the  men  of  science  do. 
Rather,  it  populates  the  waters  of  the  earth  with 
sea-serpents,  and  the  woods  with  dancing  fairies,  and 
the  solitary  house  with  its  ghost,  and  the  sky  with 
the  anger  of  God  when  it  thunders  and  with  the 
gentleness  of  God  when  the  rainbow  shines.  Devils, 
goblins,  griffins,  unicorns,  the  sweet  music  of  sirens, 
men  whose  heads  do  grow  beneath  their  shoulders, 
gods  who  married  the  daughters  of  men,  scandal 

61 


MYTHS 

about  Queen  Elizabeth,  giants,  salamanders — here 
are  things  of  a  more  enticing  and  haunting  interest 
than  any  imbecile  "why."  Here  is  not  emptiness, 
but  abundance — abundance  more  wonderful  and 
coloured  than  the  abundance  of  a  fruiterer's  shop. 
Is  it  any  wonder  that  few  except  the  dull  and  the 
wise  can  resist  the  invitation  to  come  and  buy  ? 

There  is  this  difference  to  be  noted,  however, 
between  the  civilized  man  and  the  savage  in  regard 
to  their  myths.  The  civilized  man  is  ever  so  much 
more  eager  than  the  savage  to  support  his  myths 
with  evidence  as  if  he  were  in  a  court  of  law.  The 
savage  is  content  to  invent  his  myth  :  the  civilized 
man  is  not  happy  until  he  has  invented  his  evidence 
too.  There  was  never  a  myth  supported  with  such 
a  mass  of  absolutely  convincing  evidence  as  the 
myth  of  the  Russian  troops  in  England.  It  was 
rare  to  meet  a  man  in  the  street  who  had  not  a 
relative  in  some  railway  department  concerned  with 
passing  the  troops  through,  or  who  had  not  spoken 
to  an  engine-driver  who  had  driven  one  of  the  trains 
that  carried  them  from  Aberdeen  to  Bristol,  or  whose 
most  intimate  friend  had  not  taken  a  leading  part  in 
sending  the  transports  to  Archangel,  or  whose 
intimate  general  or  colonel  (whom  Lord  Kitchener 
could  not  possibly  have  any  object  in  deceiving)  had 
not  confided  to  him  the  exact  number  of  Russians  on 
their  way,  or  who  had  not  seen  them  with  his  own 
eyes  late  at  night  in  a  little  country  station  wearing 
huge  beards  and  speaking  a  wild  language  which 
was  neither  French  nor  Yiddish,  or  whose  friend  in 
the  Territorials,  having  promised  to  sign  his  name 
with  two  "  t's "  instead  of  one  if  on  arriving  in 
France  he  found  the  Russians  there,  had  doubled 
the  "  t "  on  his  first  postcard  home,  or — but  one 
need  not  continue.  One  heard  so  many  of  these 
stories  that  one  almost  believed  one  had  seen  the 
Russians  oneself.  It  is  the  same  with  the  myth  of 

62 


MYTHS 

the  Belgian  mutilations.  It  was  impossible  to  meet 
anyone  who  did  not  know  somebody — or  at  the  very 
least  who  did  not  know  somebody  who  knew  some- 
body— who  had  seen  the  child  with  his  or  her  own 
eyes.  Every  suburb  of  London,  every  town,  every 
village,  almost  every  vicarage,  had  its  Belgian  child 
sans  hands,  sans  feet.  One  knew  people  who  knew 
people  who  could  vouch  for  it  on  the  very  best 
authority.  The  mutilated  children  had  been  sent  in 
trainloads  to  Paris  and  in  boatloads  to  England. 
To  doubt  a  man's  Belgian  child  soon  became  as 
serious  a  matter  as  to  doubt  his  God.  There  are,  I 
am  sure,  hundreds  of  men,  and  thousands  of  women, 
who  would  be  willing  to  shed  their  blood  for  their 
faith  in  that  Belgian  child.  At  a  recent  meeting, 
where  a  well-known  surgeon  confessed  his  disbelief 
in  such  things,  several  of  those  present  on  the  plat- 
form rose  up  and  left  the  hall.  To  show  anything 
except  a  blind  unquestioning  faith  in  the  Belgian 
child  was  to  be  a  pro-German  of  the  most  evil-minded 
sort. 

Now  the  real  sufferings  of  Belgium  it  would  be 
almost  impossible  to  exaggerate,  and  the  story  of 
those  sufferings  is  an  infinitely  longer  and  more 
horrible  story  than  the  most  long-winded  or  Sadistic 
version  of  the  mutilated  Belgian  child.  But 
apparently  the  public  had  to  get  into  its  mind  some 
dramatic  representation  of  all  that  horror,  some  re- 
presentation which  would  be  an  easy  and  stimulating 
substitute  for  the  prolonged  study  of  a  hundred 
thousand  scattered  facts.  The  ubiquitous  Belgian 
child  gave  the  public  what  it  wanted — one  of  those 
favourite  symbols  in  wartime  when  men  like  to 
picture  themselves  as  the  knights  of  God  fighting 
against  devils  more  atrocious  than  the  Devil.  But 
what  puzzles  one  in  the  whole  business  is  the  way 
in  which  evidence  in  support  of  things  which  have 
not  happened  is  invented  among  perfectly  honest 

63 


MYTHS 

people.  It  is  partly  due  to  the  fact  that  the  majority 
even  of  honest  people  modify  the  nature  of  the 
evidence  as  they  pass  it  on.  One  man  passes  some- 
thing on  to  a  friend  as  a  piece  of  hearsay;  the 
second  relates  it  as  something  which  a  friend  of  his 
actually  witnessed ;  the  next  man  to  hear  the  story 
makes  it  still  more  dramatic  by  declaring  that  he 
saw  the  thing  himself.  And  even  the  third  of  these 
men  may  be,  comparatively  speaking,  honest.  He 
is  frequently  one  of  those  persons  subject  to 
hallucinations  who  believe  they  have  been  present  at 
what  they  have  merely  heard  about,  just  as  George 
IV.  firmly  believed  that  he  had  fought  at  the  battle 
of  Waterloo. 

In  private  life  we  are,  as  a  rule,  somewhat 
impatient  of  the  hallucinated  man.  We  find  it 
simplest  to  call  him  a  liar  and  leave  it  at  that.  It 
would  be  a  most  convenient  arrangement  if  human 
beings  could  be  divided  into  those  who  are  liars  and 
those  who  are  not,  but  such  a  -division  would  be  a 
classification  for  the  sake  of  classification  and  would 
have  small  basis  in  reality.  Whether  we  are  liars 
or  not  depends  largely  on  what  we  are  talking  about. 
When  we  are  talking  about  something  that  excites 
us,  we  are  more  likely  to  invent  than  when  we  are 
talking  about  something  which  we  can  approach 
calmly.  When  a  reader  of  the  Jingo  Press,  for 
instance,  is  talking  about  alien  enemies  he  finds  it 
quite  easy  to  invent  the  legend  that  the  man  with 
the  German  name  who  lives  in  the  next  street  walks 
up  and  down  his  roof  all  night  waving  a  red  lantern 
to  show  the  German  airmen  where  to  drop  bombs. 
When  not  one  person  but  a  million  persons  simulta- 
neously invent  a  legend  of  this  sort  all  over  a  country 
you  soon  get  a  myth  which  the  ordinary  man  believes 
a  good  deal  more  fervently  than  he  believes  the 
miracles  of  the  New  Testament.  The  story  of  the 
German  governess  in  whose  rooms  the  bombs  were 

64 


MYTHS 

found,  which  went  the  rounds  in  England  in  the 
early  days  of  the  war,  is  an  excellent  example  of 
this  kind  of  collective  invention  or  hallucination.  As 
for  the  Lord  Haldane  myth,  it  is  of  the  same  order, 
though  it  is  fortunately  not  quite  so  popular,  being  in- 
deed what  may  be  called  a  mere  party  myth.  Still,  the 
Lord  Haldane  who  appears  in  it  is  a  figure  of  the 
genuinely  mythical  order.  One  can  imagine  that  in 
less  prosaic  days  he  would  have  appeared  villainously 
in  the  forefront  of  many  a  popular  ballad : 

"  Childe  Haldane  stood  at  the  War  Office  door, 
Stroking  his  milk-white  steed." 

How  many  seemingly  intelligent  people  there  are 
who  can  even  give  you  a  detailed  account  of  Childe 
Haldane's  wickednesses !  Only  the  other  day  a  man — 
a  voter,  a  taxpayer,  and,  possibly,  a  father — declared 
that  he  had  personal  knowledge  of  the  fact  that  just 
before  the  war  broke  out  Lord  Haldane  had  written 
a  private  letter  to  all  the  officers  in  command  of  the 
different  English  naval  ports  telling  them  to  cross 
over  to  Germany  where  they  would  have,  of  course, 
been  interned.  The  myth-maker  does  not  trouble 
to  enquire  even  whether  Lord  Haldane  is  at  the 
War  Office  or  at  the  Admiralty  or  at  neither.  All 
he  wants  is  a  good  whacking  myth  and  before  long 
his  sleep  becomes  full  of  pleasant  dreams  of  Lord 
Haldane's  head  on  a  pole  as  one  of  the  new  attrac- 
tions of  the  Tower.  Lord  Haldane  is  only  one  of  a 
score  of  people,  indeed,  whom  the  more  unbalanced 
section  of  the  public  has  condemned  to  the  Tower 
since  the  present  war  began.  He  may  be  amused  to 
recall  that  in  the  course  of  an  anti-German  agitation 
sixty  years  ago  the  public  with  equally  acute  im- 
aginativeness committed  Queen  Victoria  and  Prince 
Albert  to  the  same  prison.  In  a  letter  from  Windsor 
Castle  on  January  24th,  1854,  Prince  Albert  wrote : 

65  F 


MYTHS 

"  You  will  scarcely  credit  that  my  being  committed 
to  the  Tower  was  believed  all  over  the  country,  nay, 
even  that  the  Queen  had  been  arrested  !  People 
surrounded  the  Tower  in  thousands  to  see  us 
brought  to  it !  Victoria  has  taken  the  whole  affair 
greatly  to  heart,  and  was  excessively  indignant  at 
the  attacks." 

But  it  is  very  little  use  being  indignant  with  a  myth. 
Indignation  has  as  little  effect  on  a  myth  as  on  a 
bad  egg. 

I  began  by  suggesting  that  myths  were  attempts  on 
the  part  of  the  popular  imagination  to  fill  some  vacuum 
or  other.  Surely  the  reason  why  the  myths  of  the 
present  war  have  been  so  much  more  on  the  grand 
scale  and  so  much  longer-lived  than  has  been  the 
rule  in  recent  wars  is  that  the  conditions  of  Press 
censorship  leave  us  with  a  world  as  void  of  news  as 
any  primitive  jungle.  We  have  not  had  news  com- 
mensurate with  the  grandeur  of  the  business  on 
which  the  world  is  engaged  and  so  we  have  had  to 
invent  the  story  of  the  war  which  our  accredited 
representatives,  the  newspaper  correspondents,  are 
not  allowed  to  see.  It  is  as  if  the  Press  Censor  had 
surrounded  the  area  of  the  war  with  a  high  wall  of 
paper  on  which  no  hand  had  written  and  had  said 
to  us :  "  Let  each  man  write  on  it  what  he  will." 
That  is  why  we  have  been  so  strenously  scribbling 
all  over  those  immense  blank  spaces  like  a  child  left 
alone  with  a  lead  pencil  in  a  white-walled  room. 
There  we  have  written  our  epics  of  ghostly  armies 
and  inscribed  our  ballads  of  mutilated  children  and 
published  to  the  world  the  story  of  the  life  and 
death  of  many  a  noble  traitor.  It  will  be  interest- 
ing to  see,  when  the  war  is  over,  how  many  of  these 
scrawlings  of  the  human  imagination  will  survive. 
Even  with  a  censored  Press,  it  seems  to  me,  the 
myth  has  little  chance  of  survival  as  soon  as  it  gets 

66 


MYTHS 

into  the  papers.  Already  the  visionary  army  has 
melted  into  air — into  thin  air.  The  Belgian  child  is 
slowly  melting.  Even  Lord  Haldane  is  melting. 
The  myths  of  savages  grow  with  a  certain  gigantic 
slowness  and  they  enjoy  long  lives  like  forest  trees 
and  tortoises,  but  the  myths  of  civilised  man  last  no 
longer  than  garden  flowers,  or  grass,  or  cheese,  or 
the  daily  paper. 


67 


ON  COURAGE 

There  is  nothing  which  has  been  proved  more 
clearly  by  the  present  war,  if  indeed  it  needed  proving, 
than  that  civilization  does  not  make  for  the  decline 
of  courage.  The  stories  which  are  being  brought  in 
from  the  battlefields  contain  a  superfluity  of  evidence 
that  man  is  fighting  as  bravely  in  the  twentieth 
century  as  he  fought  on  the  windy  plain  of  Troy 
or  at  Marathon  near  the  sea.  It  has  often  been  the 
custom  to  regard  courage  as  a  peculiarly  pagan 
virtue,  easily  undermined  by  Christianity,  culture, 
and  civilization.  The  Goths,  when  they  overran 
Greece,  deliberately  abstained  from  setting  fire  to 
the  libraries  owing  to  the  fact  that — I  quote  Florio's 
Montaigne — "  one  among  them  scattered  this  opinion, 
that  such  trash  of  books  and  papers  must  be  left 
untoucht  and  whole  for  their  enemies  as  the  only 
meane  and  proper  instrument  to  divert  them  from 
all  militarie  exercises,  and  ammuse  them  to  idle, 
secure,  and  sedentarie  occupations."  We  know 
better  than  this  now,  and  soldiers  no  longer  defeat 
their  enemies  by  leaving  them  their  libraries.  They 
do  not  even  burn  their  own.  The  Germans  are, 
compared  to  any  other  European  army,  an  army  of 
bookworms ;  yet  the  record  of  their  bloody  race 
across  France  is,  in  sheer  warlike  boldness,  as 
amazing  as  anything  in  history. 

It  is  the  custom  of  most  peoples  to  abuse  their 
enemies  and,  especially  in  war  time,  to  sneer  at  them 
as  a  mob  of  cowards.  I  heard  a  lady  at  a  recruiting 
meeting  the  other  day  assuring  her  hearers  in  the 
traditional  manner  that  the  Germans  were  cowards 
to  a  man.  It  is  a  poor  compliment  to  the  armies  of 

68 


ON  COURAGE 

the  Allies  to  suggest  that  a  host  of  cowards  was  able 
to  bear  them  back  so  long  and  so  far.  But  the  taunt 
is  hardly  worth  mentioning  except  in  so  far  as  it  re- 
minds one  that  to  denounce  a  man  or  a  nation  for 
cowardice  is  almost  universally  regarded  as  the 
supreme  insult  you  can  offer.  Certainly  one  would 
rather  be  almost  anything  than  a  coward.  Most 
people,  I  fancy,  would  prefer  to  be  liars  or  wife- 
beaters  or  plunderers  of  the  poor.  One  of  the  earliest 
fears  of  every  boy  who  is  not  born,  like  Nelson,  with 
the  genius  of  fearlessness  is  that  he  may  deserve  the 
reproach  of  looking  afraid.  "  Fear  !  grandmama  " — 
so,  the  schoolboy  learns,  Nelson  spoke  as  a  child — 
"  I  never  saw  fear.  What  is  it  ?"  One  learns  in 
later  life  of  Nelson's  vanity,  his  treachery,  his  narrow 
and  tyrannical  ignorance  in  public  affairs ;  but  one 
never  loses  that  first  enthusiasm  for  his  deathless 
courage.  One  finds  a  new  hero  in  Mucius  Scaevola 
as  soon  as  one  begins  to  learn  Roman  history. 
Rousseau  tells  us  that,  when  as  a  boy  he  heard  the 
story  of  Mucius  Scaevola  for  the  first  time  at  table, 
his  family  "  were  terrified  at  seeing  me  start  from 
my  seat  and  hold  my  hand  over  a  hot  chafing-dish, 
to  represent  more  forcibly  the  action  of  that  deter- 
mined Roman."  I,  too,  long  before  I  had  ever 
heard  the  name  of  Rousseau,  was  eager  to  thrust 
my  right  hand  into  the  blaze  and  so  add  another  to 
the  line  of  the  heroes.  A  certain  realism,  however, 
always  finally  prevented  me  from  putting  myself  too 
closely  to  the  test,  and  the  swift  passage  of  a  finger 
through  the  gas-flame  was  the  nearest  I  ever  got  to 
Roman  virtue.  That  one  should  feel  like  this  at  all, 
however,  is  suggestive  of  the  instinct  that  is  in  all  of 
us  continually  to  challenge  our  bravery.  In  time  of 
war  many  men  enlist  simply  because  they  cannot 
endure  any  longer  to  leave  that  challenge  unanswered. 
Goethe,  we  are  told,  no  sooner  felt  afraid  to  do  a 
thing  than  he  did  it.  If  he  felt  timid  of  climbing  to 

69 


ON  COURAGE 

the  top  of  a  high  tower  he  immediately  climbed  up 
and  became  master  of  himself.  Some  men  have  the 
good  fortune  to  be  born  with  this  mastery,  but  they 
must  be  comparatively  few.  A  famous  general — 
was  it  Havelock  ? — said  that  in  every  regiment  there 
were  ten  per  cent,  heroes,  ten  per  cent,  cowards, 
and  eighty  per  cent,  men  who  were  a  mixture  of 
hero  and  coward.  There  is  more  of  David  Balfour 
than  of  Alan  Breck  in  most  of  us.  We  hesitate 
before  we  jump,  and  we  earn  our  courage  in  the  sweat 
of  our  brows.  We  have  long  since  given  up  the 
aspiration  to  be  Nelsons.  We  sympathize  far  more 
intimately  with  the  ancient  soldier  who,  on  finding 
his  limbs  begin  to  shake  as  he  went  into  battle, 
addressed  them  with  grim  humour  :  "  You  would 
tremble  much  worse  than  that,  my  friends,  if  you 
knew  what  I  am  going  to  put  you  through  be- 
fore I  am  done  with  you;"  and  with  the  other 
soldier  who,  on  being  jeered  at  for  his  pallor  and 
nervousness,  replied  to  his  tormentor  :  "  If  you  were 
half  as  afraid  as  I  am,  you  would  have  run  away." 

That,  as  a  rule,  is  the  courage  not  of  men  trained 
to  danger,  but  of  beginners.  I  have  heard  an  artist 
who  accompanied  the  Japanese  troops  in  the  Russo- 
Japanese  war  say  that,  on  his  first  going  under  fire, 
he  was  so  frightened  that  he  bit  through  the  mouth- 
piece of  his  pipe.  He  was  regarded,  he  added,  as  a 
highly  comic  figure  by  the  Japanese  on  account  of 
his  fears.  It  would  obviously  be  impossible  for 
soldiers  to  go  on  suffering  from  nervousness  like  this. 
They  soon  get  hardened  to  the  peril  of  war :  it  is 
not  long  before  they  cease  to  duck  at  the  passage  of 
bullets.  A  sergeant  in  the  Royal  Engineers  described 
the  other  day  how  the  British  troops  rushed  into 
battle  at  one  point  singing  and  shouting  :  "  Early 
doors  this  way  ;  early  doors,  gd."  That  is  an  illus- 
tration of  the  contempt  for  danger  that  soldiers,  if 
they  are  well  led,  learn.  One  finds  a  still  more  ex- 

70 


ON   COURAGE 

cellent  example  of  the  contempt  for  danger  in  a  story 
in  the  Daily  Telegraph  about  the  crew  of  an  English 
submarine  which  was  fired  at  by  the  Germans  while 
she  was  scouting : 

"  As  she  came  to  the  surface  her  conning-tower 
was  fired  at.  She  submerged  herself,  and  rested  on 
the  bottom.  After  four  hours,  the  atmosphere  having 
become  somewhat  thick,  she  came  up  for  air. 

"  Her  conning-tower  was  again  a  mark  for  the 
enemy,  and  one  shot  went  through.  Hastily 
plugging  the  hole,  she  was  again  submerged, 
waiting  at  the  bottom  until  it  was  dark,  when  she 
came  up  and  escaped. 

"The  young  officer  in  command,  in  making  his 
report,  was  asked  what  they  did  while  on  the  mud. 
'  I  did  fine,'  he  replied ;  '  we  played  auction  bridge 
all  the  time,  and  I  made  45.  nid.'  " 

There  you  have  courage  as  in  the  legends,  as 
thrilling  in  its  own  way  as  that  of  Scsevola.  We 
may  laugh  at  such  schoolboy's  courage,  peacock 
courage,  but  how  magnificently  enviable  ! 

So  magnificent  and  enviable  a  gift  is  courage  that 
it  seems  at  times  to  be  the  indispensable  virtue. 
Courage  is  the  sword  and  the  staff  of  virtue; 
without  it  virtue  goes  about  unarmed.  On  the 
other  hand,  to  bow  down  and  worship  courage,  as 
we  are  sometimes  inclined  to  do,  is  mere  idolatery. 
It  is  almost  as  great  a  mistake,  though  not  so  foolish, 
as  to  sneer  at  courage  as  want  of  imagination. 
Courage,  like  a  fine  sword,  may  be  in  a  noble  or  an 
ignoble  hand.  There  was  a  leading  article  in  a 
London  newspaper  the  other  day  which  asserted 
that  courage  could  only  be  shown  in  a  just  cause, 
and  that  the  difference  between  courage  and  ferocity 
might  be  seen  in  the  comparison  between  the  con- 
duct of  the  Allies  and  of  the  Germans  in  the  present 

71 


ON  COURAGE 

war.  This  is  nonsense  and  confusion.  The  charge 
of  the  Light  Brigade  in  the  Crimean  War,  which 
had  certainly  little  to  do  with  justice,  was  as  memor- 
able an  act  of  courage  as  the  stand  of  Leonidas  and 
his  men  in  the  pass  of  Thermopylae.  Alcibiades, 
the  exquisite  traitor,  was  as  famous  for  his  courage 
as  Garibaldi.  Coriolanus  made  war  against  his  city 
with  as  marvellous  a  heroism  as  he  had  shown  in 
its  behalf.  Courage  has  been  shown  on  the  scaffold 
by  murderers  no  less  than  by  martyrs.  Mr.  Shaw 
once  shocked  the  readers  of  a  paper  called  V.C.  by 
contributing  to  a  symposium  on  "  The  Bravest  Deed 
I  Ever  Knew  "  the  opinion  that  Czogolz,  who  had 
just  assassinated  President  McKinley,  had  shown  the 
qualities  that  go  to  the  winning  of  the  Victoria  Cross 
in  a  more  conspicuous  manner  than  anyone  else  he 
could  think  of.  Indifference  to  death,  the  courage 
to  face  the  fury  of  a  mob  alone,  absolute  self-sacrifice 
— one  dismisses  these  as  callousness  in  a  fearless  man 
of  whose  action  one  does  not  approve.  One  might 
as  well,  however,  deny  beauty  to  a  woman  whose 
morals  one  dislikes  as  courage  to  a  man  whose 
morals  one  dislikes.  Every  woman  is  the  better  for 
being  beautiful,  and  every  man  is  the  better  for 
being  brave.  But  there  are  other  gifts  of  wisdom, 
affection,  and  truthfulness,  without  which  beauty 
and  courage  are  the  mere  graces  of  animals.  Wise 
courage,  which  at  times  seems  to  partake  of  timidity, 
is  a  far  rarer  thing  than  rash  courage.  This  is  the 
courage  of  the  great  statesman  and  the  great  soldier. 
It  is  the  courage  which  often  avoids  the  battle,  the 
courage  which  knows  how  to  retreat.  Pericles  had 
this  kind  of  courage.  "  In  his  military  conduct," 
says  Plutarch,  "  he  gained  a  great  reputation  for 
wariness ;  he  would  not  by  his  good-will  engage  in 
any  fight  which  had  much  uncertainty  or  hazard ; 
he  did  not  envy  the  glory  of  generals  whose  rash 
adventures  fortune  favoured  with  brilliant  success 

72 


ON  COURAGE 

however  they  were  admired  by  others ;  nor  did  he 
think  them  worthy  his  imitation,  but  always  used 
to  say  to  his  citizens  that,  so  far  as  lay  in  his 
power,  they  should  continue  immortal,  and  live  for 
ever."  The  most  courageous  action  in  his  career, 
perhaps,  was  his  refusal  to  go  out  and  fight  the 
Spartans  when  they  invaded  and  pillaged  the  Athenian 
territory,  and  pitched  their  camp  challengingly  out- 
side the  city.  "  Many  made  songs  and  lampoons 
upon  him,"  we  are  told,  "  which  were  sung  about 
the  town  to  his  disgrace,  reproaching  him  with  the 
cowardly  exercise  of  his  office  of  general,  and  the 
tame  abandonment  of  everything  to  the  enemy's 
hands." 

The  history  of  war  is  a  record  of  heroic  re- 
treats no  less  than  of  heroic  charges.  We  have 
seen  lately  in  the  retreat  of  Joffre  and  French  a 
wonderful  feat  of  heroism  of  this  order.  For  ten 
generals  who  have  the  courage  to  advance  there  is 
hardly  one  who  has  the  courage  or  the  cleverness  to 
run  away. 


73 


THRICE  IS  HE  ARMED  .  .  . 

I  doubt  if  there  is  any  belief  more  indestructible 
than  the  belief  in  the  ultimate  triumph  of  justice. 
It  requires  a  cold-blooded  philosopher  to  question  it. 
The  world  has  seen  Poland  dismembered,  Socrates 
compelled  to  drink  poison,  and  St.  Peter  crucified 
upside  down.  But  these  things  are  Devil's  triumphs 
of  a  moment.  Poland  still  lives  as  a  faith,  and 
Socrates  as  an  example,  and  St.  Peter  survives  in  the 
stones  of  churches  over  five  continents.  While  in- 
justice seems  to  reign,  we  may  believe  that  justice  is 
in  the  tomb,  but  we  also  believe  that  it  awaits  a 
glorious  resurrection.  No  Irishman  has  ever  been 
finally  disheartened  by  the  fact  that  his  country  has 
been  in  subjection  for  seven  hundred  years ;  he  would 
believe  in  inevitable  victory  even  though  it  were  to 
remain  subject  for  yet  another  seven  centuries.  This 
faith  in  a  different  scheme  of  things  from  the  scheme 
which  is  mapped  in  Whitaker's  Almanack  is  a  world- 
wide phenomenon.  Each  of  us,  in  so  far  as  we  do 
not  live  for  self-interest,  is  a  predestinate  soldier  in 
ghostly  legions  :  we  march  towards  the  morrow 
under  banners  announcing  that  justice  we  must  have 
though  the  heavens  fall.  It  is  as  though  we  claimed 
citizenship  in  two  worlds  at  once — the  visible  world 
of  the  seven  sins  and  the  invisible  world  of  the  one 
righteousness  which  men  variously  call  love,  and 
truth,  and  justice.  Not  only  this,  but  it  is  our 
instinct  continually  to  call  in  the  invisible  world  to 
redress  the  balance  of  the  visible.  We  tell  ourselves 
that  the  just  man  has  fighting  on  his  side  unseen 
companies — the  apostolic  cloud  of  witnesses.  We 
endow  him  in  our  imaginations  with  miraculous 

74 


THRICE  IS  HE  ARMED  .  .  . 

gifts,  like  the  old  Greek  heroes  to  whom  gods  lent 
their  aid  in  battle.  We  interpret  the  Biblical  cry  of 
triumph,  "  By  the  help  of  my  God  I  have  leaped 
over  a  wall,"  as  the  shout  of  a  just  man  who  has 
performed  a  wonder.  Not  we,  perhaps,  but  at  least 
our  ancestors  once  did.  And  the  prophecy  that 
"  one  man  shall  chase  a  thousand  "  must  have 
brought  rejoicing  to  generations  of  Puritans,  each  of 
whom  saw  himself  as  the  just  man  in  pursuit  of  a 
multitude  of  naughty  neighbours.  The  Christian 
imagination  is  tamer  than  the  Hebrew,  but  it,  too, 
trebles  and  decuples  the  powers  of  the  righteous 
man.  "Thrice  is  he  armed  who  hath  his  quarrel 
just  "  has  passed  into  a  proverb  ;  and  has  not  a  quite 
modern  poet  sung : 

"  My  strength  is  as  the  strength  of  ten 
Because  my  heart  is  pure  ?  " 

We  may  well  inquire  what  basis  there  is  in  fact  for 
this  heavenly  arithmetic. 

Napoleon  did  not  quite  believe  in  it.  He  even 
accused  God  of  always  being  on  the  side  of  the  big 
battalions.  Wellington,  too,  said  that  he  had  heard 
people  talk  about  a  good  general  being  able  to  defeat 
an  enemy  many  times  more  numerous  than  himself, 
but  that  he  had  never  seen  it  done.  In  1870  the 
Germans  defeated  the  French  by  consistently  out- 
numbering them  on  the  day  of  battle.  They  were 
187,000  to  113,000  at  Gravelotte;  155,000  to  90,000 
at  Sedan.  "Therefore,"  says  Captain  H.  M.  John- 
stone,  discussing  these  facts  in  a  recent  book,  The 
Foundations  of  Strategy,  "  it  is  the  duty  of  Govern- 
ments to  enable  their  generals  to  meet  100,000  with 
200,000,  if  this  be  in  any  way  possible ;  and  thereafter 
of  the  general  to  do  his  best  to  surprise  the  100,000. 
For  war  is  no  idle  game,  and  this  branch  of  the 
etiquette  of  sport  does  not  apply."  Certainly,  neither 
the  courage  nor  the  just  cause  of  the  three  hundred 

75 


THRICE  IS  HE  ARMED  .  .  . 

at  Thermopylae  helped  them  a  whit  more  than  did 
the  ritualistic  combing  of  their  long  hair  when  the 
Persian  hordes  came  upon  them,  flogged  into  battle 
by  their  captains  with  long  whips.  If  the  Greeks 
had  better  fortune  at  Marathon,  has  not  a  German 
professor  explained  this  by  estimating  that  the  army 
of  Darius,  instead  of  numbering  5,100,000,  as  Hero- 
dotus believed,  did  not  contain  more  than  15,000 
warriors,  or  a  great  deal  fewer  than  the  conquering 
Greeks  ?  The  same  authority  refuses  to  believe  that 
William  the  Conqueror  landed  in  England  with  a 
smaller  force  than  Harold  could  bring  against  him. 
Harold,  he  estimates,  had  an  army  of  about  4,000 
instead  of  the  400,000  or  1,200,000  which  have  been 
freely  attributed  to  him ;  and  to  meet  this  William 
was  able  to  bring  6,000  or  7,000  men — many  times 
fewer,  by  the  way,  than  the  old  estimate  of  32,000  or 
60,000.  Even  if  we  admit  the  exceeding  importance 
of  numbers,  however,  the  fact  remains  that  they  are 
not  the  final  secret  in  warfare.  "  In  war,"  said 
Napoleon,  the  prophet  of  the  big  battalions,  "  the 
moral  is  to  the  physical  as  three  to  one " ;  and, 
though  the  moral  includes  discipline  and  all  manner 
of  things,  one  cannot  overlook  the  importance  of  the 
soldiers'  belief  in  the  justice  of  their  cause.  We  are 
constantly  told  that  the  good  soldier  has  no  politics, 
and,  as  regards  party  politics,  this  is  true  enough. 
At  the  same  time,  soldiers,  like  other  people,  must 
have  their  opinions  on  the  causes  of  wars,  and  they 
will  not  enter  with  the  same  heart  into  a  war  which 
they  believe  to  be  unjust  as  into  a  just  war.  In  the 
present  war  we  see  each  side  taking  infinite  pains  to 
convince  itself  of  the  justice  of  the  cause  for  which 
it  is  fighting. 

Each  of  the  nations  engaged  makes  desperate 
attempts  to  manoeuvre  its  opponents  into  a  position 
of  manifest  injustice.  Mr.  Lloyd  George  arraigns 
Germany  and  Austria  as  raiders  of  the  little  nations. 


THRICE  IS  HE  ARMED  .  .  . 

The  Germans  denounce  England  as  the  engineers 
of  a  wicked  plot  to  overwhelm  German  culture  with 
the  aid  of  European  and  Asiatic  barbarism.  Each 
country  proclaims  loudly  that  it  is  carrying  on  a  war 
in  defence  of  the  rights  of  the  weak  against  the 
strong.  Each  regards  the  case  for  the  war  put  for- 
ward by  the  other  side  as  lying  and  hypocritical. 
Call  it  hypocrisy  or  not,  it  springs  from  an  old 
instinct  which  tells  us  that  we  must  have  justice  on 
our  side  or  we  shall  perish.  Even  Bernhardi, 
though  he  denies  the  existence  of  justice  as  between 
State  and  State,  commends  his  creed  of  war  to  the 
moralist  by  the  plea  that  all  things  are  just  in  the 
furtherance  of  the  interests  of  one's  own  State.  It 
is  a  heathen  doctrine.  It  is  the  transformation  of 
the  old  tribal  god  into  a  new  tribal  ethic.  According 
to  this  theory,  every  war  is  a  just  war  in  which  you 
are  victorious.  The  saying  "  My  country,  right  or 
wrong,"  loses  its  meaning,  for  by  hypothesis  one's 
country  is  always  right.  One  speculates  as  to  the 
bewilderment  a  man  like  Bernhardi  must  feel  when 
he  reads  how  Chatham  rejoiced  to  hear  of  the 
defeat  of  his  countrymen  in  the  American  War.  I 
may  admit  in  confidence  that  I  am  sometimes 
puzzled  what  to  think  about  it  myself.  For  a  man 
to  be  so  eager  for  the  triumph  of  justice  that  he 
would  willingly  see  his  country  defeated  to  bring  it 
about  is  a  height  of  virtue  which  is  almost  inhuman. 
And  yet  men  will  sacrifice  themselves  and  their 
children  for  justice,  and  no  one  will  be  surprised. 
Why,  then,  should  we  be  astonished  if  a  great  man 
desires  to  see  his  country  fall  in  the  cause  of  a  juster 
world  ? 

The  truth  is,  most  of  us  are  of  two  minds.  We 
vacillate  helplessly  between  the  supreme  claims  of 
justice  and  the  claims  of  our  country,  and,  when 
they  conflict,  we  are  almost  always  of  the  Bernhardi 
party  and  take  sides  with  the  State.  We  say  that 

77 


THRICE  IS  HE  ARMED  .  .  . 

right  is  might,  but  we  do  not  believe  it  to  the  point 
of  being  willing  to  face  an  army  almost  single- 
handed,  like  Horatius  Codes,  in  the  assurance  of 
the  justice  of  our  cause.  Yet  every  martyr  believes 
this.  He  does  not  believe  that  right  will  necessarily 
bring  him  any  personal  victory ;  but  he  realizes  that 
defeat  in  a  just  cause  may  often  mean  victory  for 
the  cause.  It  was  so  with  John  Brown.  John 
Brown  never  fought  half  so  well  for  the  slaves  as 
John  Brown's  body  did.  It  is  with  spiritual,  not 
with  physical,  power  that  the  just  man  is  thrice 
armed ;  but  the  spiritual  has  a  way  of  drawing  the 
physical  after  it,  as  in  the  case  of  Joan  of  Arc. 
There  you  have  the  case  of  a  nervous  girl  in  her 
teens  leading  strong  men  to  do  what  no  general  of 
her  time  could  make  them  do.  She  was  worth  to 
them  more  than  a  thousand  thousand  spears.  She 
held  up  before  them  the  divine  justice  of  their  cause 
as  miraculously  attractive  as  the  brazen  serpent. 
That  is  the  difference  between  courage  in  a  just 
cause  and  courage  that  has  no  righteous  passion  at 
the  back  of  it.  This  we  may  admire ;  that  we  must 
emulate.  There  has  seldom  been  more  desperate 
courage  shown  than  by  the  so-called  anarchists  of 
Sydney  Street ;  but  they  do  not  raise  up  new  genera- 
tions of  men  to  follow  them  to  their  graves.  They 
have  their  appeal,  no  doubt,  and  the  hushed  readers 
of  penny  dreadfuls  will  always  have  a  warm  corner 
in  their  hearts  for  them.  But  it  is  only  the  courage 
of  just  men  that  raises  up  heirs  to  itself.  Washington 
may  have  personally  been  no  more  fearless  than 
Jack  the  Ripper,  but  the  courage  of  Washington 
made  a  nation,  while  the  courage  of  Jack  the  Ripper 
was  turned  into  ineffectual  vileness.  We  may  be 
sure  that  Muggleton,  the  mad  tailor  who  went  booz- 
ing round  the  publichouses  in  the  time  of  Charles 
II.  and  threatening  damnation  against  all  who 
refused  to  believe  that  the  sun  was  four  miles  from 

78 


THRICE  IS  HE  ARMED  .  .  . 

the  earth  and  that  God  was  six  feet  high,  was  as 
ready  to  die  for  his  faith  as  any  of  the  Protestant 
martyrs  of  Smithfield.  But  it  is  no  use  being  brave 
for  foolishness.  Bravery  like  this  is  as  barren  as  a 
mule.  We  cannot  but  admire  the  heroes  of  fana- 
ticism, but  is  only  when  their  fanaticism  is  likened 
to  some  kind  of  righteousness  that  it  makes  any 
practical  impression  on  us.  Thus  it  is  righteousness, 
justice,  rather  than  courage,  which  finally  appeals  to 
us.  It  is  justice  more  even  than  courage  that  is  the 
soldier's  grand  ally.  With  courage,  he  may  perish  ; 
but  with  justice  his  cause  cannot  perish.  "  Thou 
hast  left  behind,"  exclaimed  Wordsworth,  addressing 
Toussaint  1'Ouverture, 

"  Powers  that  will  work  for  thee,  air,  earth  and 

skies. 

There's  not  a  breathing  of  the  common  wind 
That  will  forget  thee  ;  thou  hast  great  allies,     j 
Thy  friends  are  exaltations,  agonies, 
And  love,  and  man's  unconquerable  mind." 

That  is  the  most  we  can  say  of  any  just  man.  We 
know  that  he  will  help  to  bring  back  the  world's 
great  age,  but  we  know  that,  however  just  he  may 
be,  his  banners  may  fall  a  thousand  times  in  battle 
before  the  golden  years  return.  Faith  in  the  justice 
of  his  cause,  however,  will  make  him  rise  and  go  on 
fighting  again  as  he  could  fight  neither  for  glory  nor 
for  his  stomach's  sake.  "  Travaillez,  travaillez  !  et 
Dieu  travaillera !  "  was  a  saying  that  Joan  of  Arc 
loved.  It  expresses  the  unyielding  faith  of  the 
soldiers  in  just  causes  in  all  ages. 


79 


THIS  LUXURIOUS  EARTH 

There  is  a  fruit-shop  in  Piccadilly  in  the  window 
of  which  little  baskets  of  strawberries  invite  you  to 
buy  them  for  twelve-and-sixpence.  If  you  count  the 
strawberries,  you  will  find  there  are  about  twenty-one 
in  a  twelve-and-sixpenny  basket.  Strawberries,  in 
other  words,  after  the  death  duties,  after  the  land 
tax,  after  the  super-tax,  after  the  doubling  of  the 
income-tax,  and  during  the  greatest  and  costliest 
war  in  history,  are  being  sold  in  London  at  between 
sevenpence  and  eightpence  apiece.  It  seems  an 
amazing  thing,  quite  apart  from  the  circumstances 
of  the  moment,  that  anyone  should  be  willing  to  pay 
sevenpence — not  to  say  eightpence — for  a  strawberry. 
Is  the  strawberry  of  April  so  much  more  fragrant 
than  the  strawberry  of  June  ?  I  doubt  it.  It  is  not 
the  charm  of  savour,  it  is  the  luxurious  charm  of 
rarity,  which  makes  people  ready  to  pay  the  price  of 
a  poor  man's  dinner  for  an  April  strawberry.  It 
seems  to  be  in  our  natures  to  love  what  is  rare  more 
than  what  is  beautiful.  We  like  things  because 
other  people  do  not  possess  them.  Who  would  be 
fascinated  by  diamonds  if  the  cliffs  were  made  of 
them  ?  It  is  not  the  eye  of  the  artist  but  the  eye  of 
the  merchant  which  distinguishes  the  true  diamond 
from  the  false.  Let  us  only  believe  a  thing  is  rare, 
and  we  take  its  beauty  for  granted.  Publishers  play 
upon  this  weakness  when  they  issue  costly  books  in 
editions  consisting  of  a  few  score  copies  and  pledge 
themselves  to  distribute  the  type  immediately  after- 
wards, so  that  the  precious  volumes  can  never  become 
everybody's  possession.  It  seems  almost  a  sin  against 
society  to  limit  the  production  of  beautiful  things  in 

80 


THE  LUXURIOUS  EARTH 

this  way.  On  the  other  hand,  if  everybody  could 
buy  them,  nobody  might  buy  them ;  and  it  is  better 
to  have  beautiful  books  published  in  small  numbers 
than  not  at  all.  Nor  is  the  passion  for  what  is  rare 
an  entirely  vulgar  passion.  It  preys  upon  artists  as 
well  as  upon  the  bosoms  of  the  rich.  Rare  things, 
strange  things,  precious  things  have  a  sensational 
importance  which  appeals  to  such  born  lovers  of 
sensations.  Great  artists  fight  their  way  through 
this  passion  for  sensations  to  the  more  austere  passion 
for  truth ;  but  the  minor  artists  frequently  pitch 
their  tents  among  the  sensations  as  though  this  were 
the  end  of  the  world.  It  would  be  difficult,  perhaps, 
for  even  a  minor  poet  to  sound  the  lyrical  cry  over 
a  sevenpenny  strawberry  or  a  twenty-five  shilling 
bundle  of  asparagus.  But  that  is  because  the  rarity 
which  is  expressed  by  sevenpence  or  twenty-five 
shillings  is  not  sufficient  to  produce  the  necessary 
ecstasy  even  in  a  poet  on  a  country  newspaper. 
Suppose,  however,  the  strawberry  had  cost  a  slave's 
life.  Suppose  the  asparagus  had  been  gathered  by 
kings'  daughters  on  the  banks  of  an  Eastern  river — 
asparagus,  I  feel  sure,  does  not  grow  in  conditions  of 
the  kind  at  all — and  were  sold  to  none  but  kings  and 
the  friends  of  kings.  Straightway  the  strawberry 
and  the  asparagus  would  take  on  a  new  value.  They 
would  become,  from  the  sensational  point  of  view, 
beautiful  things.  They  would  become  themes  for  a 
Gautier  or  a  Flaubert.  Did  not  the  most  artistic  of 
emperors,  Nero,  spend  £30,000  on  roses  from  Alex- 
andria for  a  single  banquet  ?  Probably  in  this 
twentieth  century  you  can  buy  roses  as  beautiful  for 
a  penny  at  Charing  Cross.  None  of  us  is  thrilled 
nowadays  by  the  thought  of  grapes  in  January  :  they 
are  too  common.  But  a  dish  of  ripe  grapes  in  January 
was  the  most  wonderful  thing  the  mediaeval  Duchess 
could  think  of  when  Dr.  Faustus  put  his  magic  at 
her  service. 

81  G 


THE  LUXURIOUS  EARTH 

It  would  be  possible  to  explain  this  passion  for 
rare  and  strange  things  as  something  born  of  a 
winged  imagination.  It  is  a  desire  to  escape  from 
the  common  round.  It  is  a  protest  against  everyday. 
It  is  the  choice  of  wine  above  water.  Whether  it  is 
an  excellent  thing  to  pass  one's  life  thus  in  exquisite 
quarrels  with  commonness  is  another  matter.  The 
imaginative  life  turns  as  easily  to  perversity  as  to 
glory.  Imagination  which  is  content  with  conquests 
of  out-of-season  strawberries  will  have  no  energy  for 
flights  where  the  morning  stars  sing  together.  The 
love  of  luxury  is  imagination  with  sleepy  wings. 
Good  poets  have  always  had  to  protest  against  it, 
even  to  the  point  of  praising  beans.  To  desire  diffi- 
cult fruits  too  greedily  seems  in  a  measure  to  be  a 
disparagement  of  life  and  the  four  seasons.  Petronius 
describes  a  banquet  infinitely  more  sumptuous  than 
Plato's ;  but  it  is  an  insult  to  day  and  night.  Even 
a  drunkard  on  principle  will  shrink  from  the  vul- 
garity of  the  parvenu  who  has  wine  instead  of  water 
poured  on  the  hands  of  his  guests.  That  is  luxury 
turned  to  folly.  It  is  quite  unlike  the  luxury  of  a 
man  who  squanders  his  fortune  on  wines  of  delicate 
flavour.  The  latter  is  at  least  in  love  with  a  real 
thing  :  the  former  only  with  display.  If  Beaujolais 
were  dearer  than  Chambertin,  then  the  parvenu 
would  drink  Beaujolais.  To  him  there  is  no  differ- 
ence between  them  except  in  boasting.  Clearly  it  is 
impossible  to  enjoy  luxury  of  this  kind  and  life  at 
the  same  time.  The  luxurious  man  pleases  himself 
with  the  thought  that  he  possesses  what  other  people 
lack :  in  reality,  he  lacks  what  other  people  possess. 
Everything  that  happens  in  the  ordinary  course  of 
nature  is  to  him  not  a  treasure,  but  a  banality.  He 
despises  everything  that  is  not  purchasable — daffodils 
in  March,  and  larks  in  an  April  sky,  and  the  sun  that 
rises  and  sets  every  day.  He  admires  the  beauties 
of  Nature  only  if  he  has  paid  a  large  fare  to  reach 

8J 


THE  LUXURIOUS  EARTH 

them.  He  can  admire  the  sun  shining  at  midnight 
in  Norway,  or  the  snowy  towers  of  mountains  seen 
from  the  grounds  of  the  most  expensive  hotel  in 
Switzerland.  .  .  .  How  one  loves  to  rail  at  him  ! 
One  feels  as  gay  as  a  Pharisee  among  one's  own 
frugal  pleasures  as  one  contemplates  his  million's 
worth  of  misery.  One  walks  out  over  the  little  hills 
of  this  happy  world  as  it  goes  swishing  through 
space,  and  one  boasts  in  one's  heart  that  here  for  an 
instant  one  is  lord  of  glistening  growing  things  and 
a  roof  of  music  that  one  would  not  give  in  exchange 
for  many  sevenpenny  strawberries — no,  nor  for  thirty 
thousand  pounds'  worth  of  Egyptian  roses.  The 
luxuries  of  the  earth  are  for  the  most  part  to  be  had 
without  money  and  without  price.  Nature  is  gor- 
geous with  them — the  swan  on  the  water  brooding 
on  its  windy  shadow,  the  round  eyes  of  robins,  the 
rooks  that  walk  (absurd  breeched  creatures)  among 
the  long-haired  sheep  in  the  park,  the  argument  of 
running  water,  of  running  children,  the  silver  and 
gold  of  stars,  the  brief  life  of  the  almond  blossom, 
the  foolish  nine-parts-naked  man  who  plunges  with 
grey  head  and  crimson  pants  into  the  cold  morning 
water,  the  willow  that  weeps  above  him,  the  black- 
bird that  sings  in  the  poplar  beside  the  willow,  the 
cloud  that  passes  like  a  song,  the  hide-and-seek  of 
squirrels — is  it  any  wonder  if  the  little  hills  clap 
their  hands? 

Children  alone  seem  to  be  in  full  possession  of  the 
luxuries  of  the  earth.  To  the  child,  the  fact  that  a 
thing  has  happened  before  is  no  reason  why  it  should 
not  happen  again,  and  happen  beautifully:  every- 
thing is  exciting  even  at  the  fiftieth  repetition.  In 
moments  of  fear  and  pain  the  world  may  be  full  of 
horrible  things,  but  it  is  never  full  of  dull  things. 
Mr.  Chesterton  has  noticed  the  child's  appetite  for 
reality,  and  has  been  led  by  it  to  conclude  that  the 
child  is  the  only  sincere  realist.  The  child  does  not 

83 


THE  LUXURIOUS  EARTH 

weary  of  details  as  the  rest  of  us  do  :  it  cannot  have 
enough  of  them.  If  it  wishes  to  hear  about  a  rail- 
way journey,  it  wants  everything  from  the  beginning. 
The  fact  that  you  drove  to  the  station  in  a  green 
taxicab  is  to  it  full  of  romance.  It  would  like  to 
know  the  name  of  the  porter  who  took  your  luggage. 
Every  animal,  every  tree,  every  flower  that  you  saw 
from  the  train  is  greedily  visioned.  What  you  had 
to  eat  and  drink  must  not  be  left  out.  Does  not  a 
child  get  pleasure  even  from  counting  the  stairs  be- 
tween one  landing  and  another  ?  How  could  bore- 
dom ever  enter  a  house  in  which  the  staircase  is 
a  ladder  of  wonder?  If  you  go  into  Kensington 
Gardens,  you  will  see  on  all  sides  this  childish 
appreciation  of  the  luxurious  world.  To  most  of  us 
there  is  nothing  duller  on  the  earth  than  those 
cylindrical  tins  in  which  coffee,  Cerebos  salt,  and 
other  groceries  are  sold.  But  give  one  of  these  tins 
to  a  seven-year-old  child  and  he  will  set  it  afloat  on 
the  Round  Pond,  and  he  and  his  friends  on  the  bank 
will  steer  it  by  throwing  pebbles  in  the  water  round 
it  all  day  long.  Out  of  two  tiny  bits  of  wood  and  a 
sheet  of  paper  a  boat  is  made  which  is  as  thrilling 
to  the  imagination  as  the  Queen  Elizabeth.  The  drake 
that  bobs  his  curly  tail  in  the  air  while  he  drowns  his 
coloured  neck  in  the  ruffled  waves  is  a  beautiful 
thing,  but  the  ramshackle  boat  and  the  coffee  tin  do 
not  yield  to  him  in  beauty.  Near  by,  on  the  grass, 
a  boy  drags  after  him  by  a  string  a  small  and  dirty 
cricket  bat  bound  flat  to  the  wheels  of  a  broken  toy. 
Apparently  it  is  intended  to  represent  a  cannon,  and 
the  boy's  friend  pursues  it  with  a  fierce  artillery  of 
stones.  As  one  watches  poor  children  round  the  pond 
making  their  pleasure  out  of  refuse  and  broken  things, 
one  is  inclined  at  moments  to  wonder  whether  this 
happiness  of  invention,  this  self-reliant  mastery  of 
one's  little  world,  may  not  be  a  greater  possession 
than  the  nursed  and  taught  amusements  of  richer 

84 


THE  LUXURIOUS  EARTH 

infants.  One  would  imagine  that  a  child  that  has 
to  look  after  itself,  to  say  nothing  of  its  sisters  and 
brothers,  from  the  age  of  five  would  grow  up  more 
powerful  and  resourceful  and  leader-like  in  character 
than  a  child  pampered  and  nursed  and  school- 
mastered  from  the  cradle.  But  clearly  this  is  not 
so.  This  happiness  with  anything  and  everything 
is  one  of  the  compensations  of  the  poor :  it  is  not 
enough  in  itself  to  make  poverty  a  blessing.  The 
empty  stomach,  the  foul  air  of  the  narrow  street,  the 
torn  boot,  the  tattered  shirt,  the  earsplitting  school- 
room— these  quickly  tame  the  spirit  that  otherwise 
might  have  become  too  regal  amid  its  treasures. 
These,  and  the  need  to  serve — the  need  to  serve 
moreover,  in  a  manner  and  in  a  degree  in  which  no 
human  being  ought  to  have  to  serve — in  order  to  be 
permitted  to  eat  at  a  table  and  sleep  in  a  bed 
that  would  make  most  of  us  ill.  Gradually  in  such 
a  world  a  coffee  tin  ceases  to  be  more  than  a  coffee 
tin,  and  the  stairs  become  a  burden.  It  is  so,  of 
course,  with  all  of  us.  But  those  of  us  who  live 
above  the  poverty-line  have  other  sources  of  luxury 
to  take  the  place  of  pretence  and  toys.  Not  many, 
perhaps,  if  we  lose  entirely  the  spirit  of  the  child, 
but  enough  to  enable  us  at  the  very  lowest  to  flit 
from  one  tedious  place  to  another,  and  to  have  some 
novelty  of  choice  among  tedious  dishes.  I  do  not, 
I  may  say,  myself  find  the  world  so  dismal  a  round 
as  this,  and  for  my  friends  I  desire  some  middle 
place  between  the  extremes  of  tedium  and  penury. 
But  if  one  had  to  choose  between  tedium  and  penury 
— who  knows  ?  On  the  whole,  I  lean  to  the  seven- 
penny  strawberry  rather  than  to  the  empty  coffee 
tin  now  that  I  have  left  the  age  of  magic  behind. 


ON   SAVING    MONEY 

To  save  money  is  now  the  eleventh  command- 
ment. It  is  a  commandment  which  many  people 
will  find  it  extremely  difficult,  and  many  others 
extremely  easy,  to  obey.  Some  men  are  pre- 
destined to  save  money.  It  is  no  more  a  virtue  with 
them  than  a  bad  digestion.  They  would  save  money 
on  an  income  of  a  hundred  pounds.  Other  men  are 
predestined  to  spend  money.  It  is  no  more  a  virtue 
with  them  than  if  they  were  to  weigh  fifteen  stone. 
They  could  not  save  on  an  income  of  ten  thousand  a 
year.  These  are  two  races  of  men  which  will  never 
entirely  understand  one  another.  The  thrifty  man 
will  seem  to  his  opposite  a  skinflint  rather  than  a 
saviour  of  the  State.  The  spendthrift,  on  the  other 
hand,  will  not  always  be  taken  at  his  own  valuation 
as  a  heart  of  corn  and  a  generous  fellow.  He  is  the 
butt  of  the  proverbs.  The  wisdom  of  humanity  is 
against  him.  "  A  fool  and  his  money,"  say  the  old 
wives,  "  are  soon  parted."  "  A  penny  saved  is  a 
penny  earned,"  they  add.  "  Take  care  of  the  pence," 
they  develop  the  theme,  "  and  the  pounds  will  take 
care  of  themselves."  The  copybooks  contain  noth- 
ing so  effective  to  warn  the  young  against  growing 
up  miserly.  It  is  only  on  Sundays  that  we  are 
advised  to  take  no  thought  for  the  morrow,  and  even 
then  the  text  is  rolled  out  for  love  of  the  sound 
rather  than  the  sense.  We  seldom  meet  anyone 
above  a  schoolboy  who  interprets  it  literally.  I 
have  never  known  but  one  person  who  recommended 
it  on  the  score  of  practical  morals.  This  was  when 
as  a  small  boy  I  had  more  by  luck  than  by  judgment 
won  a  prize  of  a  few  pounds — fifteen  or  twenty,  if  I 

86 


ON   SAVING  MONEY 

am  not  mistaken — but  at  least  it  was  too  large  to  be 
laid  out  with  a  good  conscience  on  butterscotch, 
nougat,  and  cheap  editions  of  the  Waverley  Novels. 
There  was  a  theory  that  it  should  be  put  in  the 
bank;  but  a  charming  lady  in  gold-rimmed  spectacles 
and  a  lace  cap,  with  her  silver  hair  curled  round 
little  tortoiseshell  combs  on  each  side  of  her  head,  per- 
suaded me  secretly  against  this,  alleging  as  a  reason 
that  to  put  money  in  a  bank  was  to  distrust  God 
Almighty.  Dr.  Johnson,  she  declared,  naming  a 
clergyman  much  respected  in  the  neighbourhood, 
had  been  vehemently  of  this  opinion  and  had  never 
put  a  penny  in  the  bank  in  his  life.  I  took  Dr. 
Johnson  in  this  matter — alas,  in  this  matter  only ! — 
as  my  model,  and  no  child  can  ever  have  paid  so 
many  visits  to  the  confectioner's  under  the  segis  of 
the  New  Testament.  But  it  is  as  rare  as  a  happy 
farmer  to  find  the  old  exhorting  the  young  to  live 
dangerously  in  the  matter  of  money.  Even  those 
who  talk  the  most  eloquently  about  living  dan- 
gerously make  haste  to  secure  themselves  against 
the  perils  of  pennilessness.  It  is  only  the  saints  and 
the  fools  who  live  dangerously  to  the  point  of  being 
ready  to  give  away  all  their  goods  to  the  poor  or 
anybody  else  who  happens  to  be  convenient.  At  the 
same  time  it  is  a  remarkable  fact  that  in  the  New 
Testament  it  is  not  the  rich  who  waste  their  money 
that  are  attacked,  but  the  rich  who  save  it.  Saving 
money  is  a  virtue  which  has  very  little  said  in  its 
favour  in  the  source-books  of  Christianity.  The 
man  with  the  single  talent  is  the  type  of  the  man 
who  saves  for  saving's  sake.  I  do  not  mean  to 
suggest  that  the  two  other  men  in  the  parable  of 
the  talents  were  wastrels.  But  they  were  types  of 
what  may  be  called  constructive  saving.  They  did 
not  save  for  saving's  sake.  They  were  not  terrified 
of  using  money.  They  may  have  put  it  in  a  bank 
or  invested  it.  They  did  not,  at  least,  put  it  in  an 

87 


ON  SAVING  MONEY 

old  stocking.  They  saved  generously  and  not 
meanly.  The  other  fellow  was  simply  the  mean 
man  who  takes  no  risks.  To  save  money  without 
being  mean — that  is  the  difficulty  which  to  many 
young  and  fiery  natures  seems  almost  insuperable. 

Certainly  it  is  difficult  to  idealize  a  niggard  or  a 
miser.  There  are  more  people  who  can  look 
tolerantly  on  the  younger  Cato's  drunkenness  than 
on  the  elder  Cato's  meanness.  The  latter's  selling 
his  old  war-horse  in  Spain,  in  spite  of  a  thousand 
associations,  in  order  to  save  the  expense  of  its  trans- 
port to  Rome  has  lived  in  history  as  one  of  the  most 
odious  actions  ever  performed  by  an  illustrious  man. 
Our  instincts  are  impatient  of  such  meannesses. 
They  cry  out  against  the  reduction  of  life  to  a 
money  measure.  Obviously,  if  saving  money  is  the 
highest  point  of  wisdom,  we  must  get  rid  not  only 
of  old  horses,  but  of  old  men  and  women.  Shylock's 
lament  over  his  ducats  and  his  daughter  leaves  him 
a  tragicomic  rather  than  a  tragic  figure.  We  hate 
to  see  the  very  heart  and  soul  of  a  man  haunted  by 
money  in  this  way.  Scotsmen  are  more  jeered  at 
because  one  of  them  once  said  "  Bang  went  saxpence !" 
— or  perhaps  a  music-hall  comedian  invented  it — 
than  for  any  other  reason.  The  Jews  are  also  the 
subject  of  a  thousand  jokes  on  account  of  their 
"  nearness,"  to  use  an  old  word,  with  money.  Potash 
and  Perlmiittcr,  the  Jewish-American  play  which  has 
been  entertaining  all  London,  is  simply  a  comedy  of 
the  shifting  balance  between  thrift  and  human  feel- 
ing. The  French  peasant  seems  in  his  attitude 
to  money  to  be  not  unlike  the  Jew.  Perhaps 
Maupassant's  peasants  are  only  the  mechanical  toys 
of  fiction,  but  one  cannot  help  suspecting  that  an 
anecdote  from  life  is  at  the  bottom  of  that  story  in 
which  a  mother  is  concerned  less  about  her  daughter's 
seduction  than  about  the  price  the  girl  has  extracted 
for  it.  The  Irish  had  not  till  recently  the  reputa- 

88 


ON   SAVING  MONEY 

tion  of  money-savers.  But  the  plays  of  the  Abbey 
Theatre  have  exhibited  to  us  a  peasantry  as  deeply 
absorbed  in  petty  economies  as  the  French  or  the 
Jews.  We  are  shown  in  play  after  play  small 
farmers  haggling  over  their  parents'  deathbeds  and 
over  their  daughters'  marriage-portions  One  would 
conclude  from  them  that  thrift  rather  than  thrift- 
lessness  must  be  the  leading  Irish  vice.  I  have 
heard  it  argued,  indeed,  that  the  Irish  are  wasteful 
merely  in  so  far  as  they  have  been  anglicized :  that 
they  have  modelled  themselves  too  slavishly  on  the 
most  wasteful  nation  on  the  earth.  Probably  this 
is  at  least  nine  parts  untrue.  The  English  are  cer- 
tainly an  extraordinarily  wasteful  people,  but  they 
are  wasteful  out  of  an  abundance.  Theirs  is  a 
solvent  wastefulness.  They  keep  within  the  limits 
prescribed  by  Mr.  Micawber  for  happy  expenditure. 
It  is  (in  the  wealthier  classes)  individualistic,  even 
egoistic,  expenditure,  but  on  the  whole  it  is  on  the 
right  side  of  bankruptcy.  No  doubt,  the  industrial 
revolution  had  much  to  do  with  introducing  this 
element  of  practical  sense  into  English  wastefulness. 
The  English  aristocrat  of  the  eighteenth  century, 
even  when  he  was  a  Prime  Minister,  was  as  extra- 
vagant and  as  cheerful  under  his  debts  as  a  stage 
Irishman.  If  there  were  a  superfluity  for  everybody, 
one  might  rejoice  in  this  golden  open-handedness. 
But  in  a  world  in  which  the  resources  have  never 
got  quite  fairly  adjusted  to  the  needs  of  the  popu- 
lation one  can  only  applaud  spendthrifts  with  reserve. 
They  are  usually  wasting  other  people's  dinners. 
There  is  one  curious  type  of  spendthrift  who  is  a 
spendthrift  abroad,  but  a  miser  in  his  own  home. 
There  is  scarcely  a  public-house  without  an  example 
of  him.  His  generosity  is  all  selfishness.  He  finds 
it  easy  to  stint  his  family:  he  finds  it  impossible 
to  stint  his  boon  companions. 
Thus  one  can  never  judge  a  man  merely  by  the 
89 


ON   SAVING  MONEY 

fact  that  he  saves  or  spends  money.  There  may  be 
all  sorts  of  good  or  bad  reasons  for  doing  either.  I 
knew  a  man  who  used  to  invite  his  friends  to  high 
tea,  and  who  thought  nothing  of  interrupting  the 
conversation  to  adjure  them:  "For  God's  sake,  go 
easy  with  the  butter !"  Even  in  so  extreme  an  in- 
stance of  economy  as  this  it  would  be  a  mistake  to 
dismiss  the  man  as  a  miser.  Men  have  a  hundred 
motives  for  saving.  They  may  be  supporting  poor 
relations,  or  devoting  their  money  to  a  cause,  or 
going  to  get  married.  As  for  the  man  who  saves 
money  without  a  considerable  motive  he  is  beyond 
understanding.  I  have  known  a  rich  man  who 
would  run  himself  out  of  breath  for  a  hundred  yards 
in  order  that  his  'bus  might  cost  him  a  penny  instead 
of  twopence.  I  have  heard  others  relating  with  glee 
how  they  discovered  a  shop  here  and  a  shop  there 
where  they  were  able  to  effect  some  trivial  economy 
at  an  enormous  expense  of  labour.  Saving  money, 
I  suppose,  has  with  these  people  become  a  sort  of 
game  or  hobby,  like  collecting  stamps.  The  human 
being  is  a  playful  creature  and  must  amuse  itself. 

Perhaps  the  official  call  for  economy  will  result  in 
the  invention  of  a  new  game  in  which  households 
will  compete  against  each  other  in  such  things  as 
miserly  dinners.  Certainly  the  new  conditions  will 
enable  the  least  miserly  to  take  up  saving  money 
either  as  a  hobby  or  as  a  reputable  mission  in  life. 
The  generous  man  will  no  longer  feel  he  is  casting  a 
slur  on  things  in  general  by  drinking  water  instead 
of  wine,  or  by  taking  a  'bus  where  a  taxicab  would 
do,  or  by  returning  to  his  house  with  as  much  money 
in  his  pocket  as  when  he  left  it.  It  is  a  vin  ordinaire 
world  into  which  the  war  has  precipitated  us.  How 
skimping  a  time  lies  before  us  comes  home  to  the 
imagination  as  we  read  the  official  German  recom- 
mendations in  regard  to  changes  in  the  standard  of 
living.  Here  is  a  typical  passage  from  them  : 

90 


ON    SAVING  MONEY 

"  The  value  of  the  refuse  is  frequently  not  realized. 
How  much  can  be  saved  by  peeling  potatoes  pro- 
perly has  already  been  mentioned.  All  meat  and 
fish  refuse  should  be  carefully  used.  All  bones, 
skins,  sinews,  and  smoked  rinds  can  be  boiled  down 
and  used  for  soups  and  with  vegetables,  and  from  the 
bones,  heads,  and  roes  of  herrings  good  sauces  can 
be  made,  for  instance,  for  potatoes.  The  waste  from 
vegetables  and  fruit  should  also  be  used.  Cabbage 
stalks  and  celery  leaves  when  cut  into  small  pieces 
make  a  good  seasoning  for  many  dishes ;  fruit  peel 
and  seeds  make  syrup,  soup  and  jelly." 

Starched  ladies'  petticoats  and  starched  shirt- 
fronts  are  condemned,  because  starch  is  made  from 
what  might  be  used  as  food  ;  and  patriots  are  advised 
even  to  "  economise  soap  in  washing  clothes,  be- 
cause soap  is  largely  produced  from  edible  fats." 
Who  of  us  had  ever  realized  we  were  living  so 
luxuriously  ?  Perhaps  we  shall  yet  be  told  that  we 
shave  too  often  or  waste  too  much  money  on  polish- 
ing our  boots,  or  use  knives  and  forks  uneconomi- 
cally  on  many  articles  of  food  for  which  our  fingers 
would  do  as  well.  Assuredly  the  Simple  Lifers  are 
inheriting  the  earth.  One  forsees  dismally  a  world 
of  potato  skins,  cabbage  stalks,  and  cold  water. 
Aged  bon-vivants  will  have  to  dye  their  hair  and 
smuggle  themselves  into  the  Army  in  order  to  get  a 
decent  plate  of  roast  beef.  .  .  .  But  perhaps  the 
prospect  is  not  so  black  as  it  at  first  appears.  After 
all,  if  one  wants  a  charming  dinner  at  a  low  price, 
the  economical  French  are  more  likely  to  give  it  to 
one  than  the  wasteful  English.  If  the  reign  of 
economy  results  in  the  general  spread  of  French 
cookery,  there  are  a  few  scatterpennies  at  least  who 
will  not  complain  too  bitterly. 


PEACE  ON  EARTH 

Everybody  desires  peace  as  everybody  desires  to 
go  to  Heaven.  Peace  on  earth,  of  course,  not  peace 
with  Germany.  Peace  on  earth  means  to  the  average 
man  the  liberty  to  wear  a  rosy  face  in  the  bosom  of 
his  family  on  Christmas  Day,  and  the  liberty  to  swell 
with  a  double  dinner  on  Christmas  evening.  Possibly 
when  he  reads  about  the  blessings  of  universal  peace 
in  the  papers  and  hears  about  it  from  the  platform, 
he  interprets  this  as  meaning  the  blessings  of  a 
world  in  which  he  could  live  thus  rosily  all  the  year 
round.  Perhaps  that  is  his  vision  of  Heaven,  too. 
Most  of  our  visions  can  be  interpreted  in  terms  of 
the  price  list  of  Messrs.  Fortnum  and  Mason. 

Certainly  when  we  try  to  fly  a  little  higher  than 
that  in  our  visions  of  a  better  world  we  leave  ninety- 
nine  men  in  a  hundred  cold.  There  is  nothing  that 
the  ordinary  man  shrinks  from  more  nervously  than 
the  idea  of  having  to  live  in  one  of  those  Utopias 
which  various  Pacifist  and  Socialist  writers  are  never 
tired  of  painting.  Even  as  regards  Heaven  as  it  is 
commonly  pictured  for  us,  he  wants  to  go  there  not 
because  he  thinks  it  is  preferable  to  earth,  but 
only  because  he  thinks  it  is  preferable  to  hell.  It  is 
the  same  with  our  dream  of  peace.  We  love  it  not 
for  its  own  sake,  but  only  when  it  is  contrasted  with 
the  filth  of  war.  Even  while  we  praise  it  most 
warmly  we  have  misgivings.  We  wonder  at  times 
whether,  after  all,  it  might  not  mean  the  supersession 
of  brave  men  with  guns  by  base  creatures  with 
nothing  but  gullets.  We  can  no  more  comfortably 
imagine  a  world  without  arms  than  the  world  as  it 
would  have  been  if  Adam  and  Eve  had  not  eaten 
the  apple.  We  idealize  the  Garden  of  Eden,  but  we 

92 


PEACE  ON  EARTH 

realize  only  this  battered  earth.  William  Morris 
tried  to  paint  for  us  something  like  a  Garden  of 
Eden  in  News  from  Nowhere.  But,  radiant  and  em- 
broidered with  all  the  happinesses  as  that  world  was, 
the  average  man  would  as  soon  be  a  fish  as  live  in  it. 
We  cannot  get  rid  of  the  feeling  that  the  air  there  is 
stagnant.  And,  as  experiments  have  recently  shown, 
even  pure  air  that  is  stagnant  has  a  more  disastrous 
effect  on  us  than  impure  air  that  is  in  motion.  If 
this  air  that  we  breathe  in  the  twentieth  century  is 
impure,  it  is  still  moving.  We  feel  we  are  living  in 
the  great  world  and  not  in  a  glass  case.  The 
problem  for  the  Pacifist,  as  for  the  Socialist,  is  to 
construct  some  other  than  a  glass-case  Utopia. 
Until  he  can  do  this,  he  might  as  well  address  his 
appeals  to  the  wax  figures  in  Madame  Tussaud's  as 
to  ordinary  men  and  women. 

It  is  often  taken  for  granted  by  the  preachers  of 
war-at-any-price  that  the  Pacifist  is  condemned  out 
of  hand  by  his  Utopia.  But  this  is  nonsense.  No 
man  is  condemned  by  his  Utopia.  If  it  comes  to 
comparing  Utopias,  what  about  the  Utopia  of  the 
war  party  itself,  supposing  it  to  be  logical  enough  to 
have  a  Utopia  ?  If  war  is  the  supreme  school  of 
valour,  as  the  Treitschkes  and  the  Bernhardis  seem 
to  believe,  how  much  of  war  will  be  necessary  to 
give  us  a  perfectly  valorous  world  ?  Will  a  war 
every  generation  do  ?  Or  must  we  have  a  war  every 
ten  years  ?  Or  every  year  ?  Or  every  week  ?  The 
truth  is,  none  of  the  war-at-any-price  party  dare  sit 
down  and  paint  in  detail  his  Utopia  of  carnage.  If 
the  Utopia  of  peace  is  like  lukewarm  milk  with  the 
skin  on  it,  the  Utopia  of  war  is  like  blood  in  buckets. 
One  may  use  the  same  method  of  answering  those 
who  frown  contempt  on  the  Utopias  of  Socialists 
and  express  their  enthusiasm  for  a  competitive 
world.  Let  them  describe  a  day  in  their  Utopia  of 
competition  and  see  if  the  result  is  not  more  horrible 

93 


PEACE  ON  EARTH 

than  the  police-court  news  in  a  Sunday  paper. 
Chemist  would  poison  chemist,  and  draper  would  lie 
in  wait  for  draper  with  his  yard-measure.  It  would 
be  a  world  in  which  the  strong  man  would  not 
temper  his  strength  with  pity  or  the  cunning  man 
dilute  his  cunning  with  morality.  Every  man  would 
be  at  every  other  man's  throat  instead  of,  as  at 
present,  merely  at  his  pocket.  It  would  be  a  world 
mad  with  the  beastliness  at  which  even  the  beasts 
draw  the  line.  This,  however,  does  not  disturb  the 
anti-Socialist  in  the  slightest.  He  judges  only  his 
neighbours  by  their  Utopias.  The  fact  is:  the  people 
who  are  most  impatient  with  Utopias  are  usually 
those  who  are  fairly  well  satisfied  with  the  present 
day.  They  are  the  persons  who  are  least  affected 
by  the  horrors  of  war  or  poverty — these  and  the 
persons  who  are  least  hopeful  of  ever  being  able  to 
get  rid  of  them.  There  is  no  reason  why  anyone 
should  be  at  all  enamoured  with  peace  on  earth,  if 
the  earth  as  it  is,  dusty  and  deaf  with  strife,  suits 
him  (as  he  would  say)  down  to  the  ground.  That 
kind  of  man  does  not  believe  in  the  logic  of  war  or 
the  logic  of  competition  any  more  than  he  believes 
in  the  logic  of  peace  or  Socialism.  He  believes  only 
in  the  present  day  with  the  comforts,  or  it  may  be 
the  bare  necessities,  it  brings  him.  He  repeats 
"  Peace  on  earth  "  merely  because  it  is  an  orthodox 
saying  of  the  present  era.  He  accepts  it  as  he 
accepts  a  municipal  gasworks.  It  is  something 
already  in  existence,  not  a  mere  grasping  after  the 
air  in  the  middle  of  next  week.  So  long  as  he  is  not 
asked  to  look  forward  further  than  he  can  see 
through  a  telescope,  he  does  not  protest.  But 
beyond  that  it  is  too  distant  from  his  fireside ;  it  is 
a  world  of  cold  and  inhuman  places.  The  last  thing 
in  which  man  will  become  adventurous  is  sociology. 
He  feels  in  his  bones  that  the  South  Pole  itself  is  a 
million  miles  nearer  than  Utopia. 

94 


PEACE  ON  EARTH 

Is  there  any  way  of  making  the  Utopia  of  Peace 
less  null  and  void  than  it  has  a  way  of  being  at 
present  ?  Or  must  Pacifists  always  be  content  to 
prostrate  themselves  before  a  negation,  like  Buddhists 
before  the  dream  of  Nirvana?  "Where  there  is 
nothing  there  is  God  "  runs  a  sentence  out  of  which 
Mr.  Yeats  made  a  title  for  one  of  his  plays.  Are  we 
also  to  rise — or,  if  you  prefer  it,  to  sink — into  the  faith 
that  only  where  there  is  nothing  there  is  peace?  Not 
entirely.  Perhaps,  however,  for  the  flesh-and-blood 
man  there  must  be  a  certain  nothingness  about  all 
ideals.  It  is  the  approach  to  the  ideal,  not  the  ideal 
itself,  in  which  our  realistic  passions  engage  them- 
selves with  the  greatest  confidence  and  delight.  The 
ideal  is  like  the  angle  o°  in  trigonometry :  it  is  im- 
possible to  imagine  it,  and  it  is  impossible  get  on 
without  imagining  it.  So  we  take  it  for  granted.  It 
is  equally  impossible  for  bullying  and  quarrelsome 
creatures  like  ourselves  to  imagine  Liberty,  Equality, 
and  Fraternity  in  their  full  implications  with  regard 
to  human  relationships.  But  France  took  the  idea 
for  granted,  and,  instead  of  worshipping  it  in  its 
ideal  nothingness,  leaped  towards  it  as  if  it  were  a 
real  thing  ;  and  that  leap  was  the  French  Revolution. 
That  is  the  plan  on  which  we  are  created.  We 
understand  the  end  chiefly  in  terms  of  a  journey. 
Our  goal  may  be  nothing  more  than  two  sticks 
crossed  by  a  third,  but  the  whole  passion  of  our  life 
is  in  the  heave  and  swing  of  the  struggle  to  reach 
that  goal.  That  explains  why  it  is  that  so  many 
Pacifists  are  fierce  and  fiery  fellows.  They  have 
their  eyes  on  the  goal  of  peace,  but  in  their  essay 
towards  it  they,  too,  experience  all  the  intoxication 
and  fury  of  the  great  game  of  idealism.  If  you  are 
in  search  of  gentleness  of  speech,  you  might  as  well 
go  to  the  battlefield  for  it  as  to  Gustav  Herv6  or 
Emile  Vandervelde. 

Perhaps  those  who  do  most  to  discredit  peace  as 

95 


PEACE  ON  EARTH 

an  ideal  are  the  people  who  wish  to  convert  it  into 
bourgeois  politics.  Peace  means  to  them  not  the 
rise  of  a  new  civilization,  but  merely  the  setting  up 
of  a  great  fat  policeman  called  Peace  over  civiliza- 
tion as  we  now  know  it.  They  want  peace  among 
the  great  Empires  because  war  is  so  expensive. 
Their  ideal  hardly  goes  beyond  an  agreement  be- 
tween England  and  Germany  to  keep  small,  cheap 
armies  and  navies  instead  of  big,  dear  armies  and 
navies.  People  of  this  mood  would  regard  it  as  an 
affair  of  minor  importance  if  every  small  nation  in 
Europe,  from  Ireland  to  Georgia  in  the  Caucasus, 
were  to  be  deprived  of  even  the  elements  of  self- 
government  for  ever  and  ever.  Their  denial  of  the 
right  of  war  would  include  the  denial  of  the  right  of 
insurrection,  and,  if  they  had  their  way,  wars  for 
liberty  would  be  prohibited  as  severely  as  wars  for 
plunder.  One  can,  of  course,  understand  and  respect 
the  religious  objection  to  war — the  objection  of  Tol- 
stoy and  the  Quakers.  There  is  something  extra- 
ordinarily persuasive  in  Tolstoy's  picture  in  Ivan  the 
Fool  of  the  nation  that  keeps  turning  the  other  cheek 
so  often  that  other  nations  get  tired  of  invading  it 
and  get  won  to  its  innocent  love  of  peace.  It  is 
difficult  to  deny  that  such  a  miracle  of  childlikeness 
on  the  part  of  a  whole  nation  might  conquer  the 
world.  Certainly  we  shall  be  ready  for  the  reign  of 
universal  peace  by  the  time  an  entire  nation  can  be 
found  to  turn  the  other  cheek,  not  through  timidity, 
but  with  cheerfulness  and  courage.  But  cheerful- 
ness and  courage  are  the  only  things  which  could 
possibly  justify  any  nation  or  any  individual  in 
turning  the  other  cheek  in  literal  Christian  obe- 
dience. Somebody  once  said  that  to  be  poor  in 
spirit  is  a  very  different  thing  from  being  poor- 
spirited.  If  our  love  of  peace  is  poor-spirited,  it  is 
no  improvement  on  our  fathers'  love  of  war.  There 
was  a  league  formed  a  year  or  two  ago  called  the 

96 


PEACE  ON  EARTH 

League  of  Peace  through  Liberty.  That  title  has  a 
better  ring  about  it  than  if  it  were  a  mere  league  for 
peace  without  any  reservations.  But,  as  a  matter  of 
fact,  the  number  of  persons,  apart  from  religious 
idealists,  who  call  for  peace  at  any  price  is  almost 
as  small  as  the  number  of  just  men  who  could  be 
found  in  the  Cities  of  the  Plain.  Most  of  us  believe 
in  peace  so  long  as  peace  is  consistent  with  ordinary 
human  decency.  But  when  every  reason  for  peace 
is  stripped  from  us  except  selfishness  or  cowardice, 
then  our  consciences  begin  to  whisper  to  us  that  war 
is  at  least  better  than  that. 


97 


GRUB 

One  cannot  travel  much  in  these  days,  even  on  the 
top  of  a  bus,  without  overhearing  a  great  deal  of  the 
conversation  of  soldiers.  If  the  soldiers  are  strangers 
to  each  other,  it  is  ten  to  one  that,  as  soon  as  they 
have  found  out  in  what  part  of  the  country  their 
respective  camps  are,  they  will  go  on  to  exchange 
experiences  about  food.  "  What's  the  food  like  ?  " 

"  Oh,  good  food.    Eggs  and  bacon  for  breakfast " 

"  Eggs  ?  We  don't  get  no  eggs — except  what's  sent 
from  home.  We  don't  get  no  eggs,  I  can  tell  you. 
Eggs  and  bacon  !  "  "  Yes,  three  times  a  week.  Oh, 
I  reckon  the  food's  all  right.  Then,  for  the  rest  of 

the  week,  herrin's "      "  Herrin's  !      Gripes,  we 

don't  get  no  herrin's "      "  Then  for  dinner  some 

kind   of   meat,   and   peas "      "Peas?      Help!" 

"  And  potatoes,  and  after  that  rice,  p'r'aps,  and 
stewed  prunes."  "  'Strewth  !  You're  lucky.  Where 
I  am  you  could  'ardly  eat  the  food,  even  if  there 
was  enough  of  it.  Our  cook  never  washes  'is  'ands. 
Dirty,  greasy  'ands  'e  'as.  Puts  'em  all  over  every- 
thing. It  ain't  food  gets  served  to  us.  It's  a  mess. 
One  day  after  dinner  we  was  nearly  all  sick. 
Couldn't  eat  anything  for  twenty-four  hours  after- 
wards. Then,  after  dinner  I  likes  a  cup  of  tea.  I 
don't  reckon  I've  'ad  my  dinner  unless  I  get  tea  with 
it."  "  We  'ave  tea."  "  I'd  give  anything  for  a  cup 
of  tea."  "  Oh,  we  ain't  got  nothin'  to  complain  of," 
replies  the  other,  with  a  slight,  boastful  yawn  ; 
"  never  tasted  better  grub  in  my  life.  'Ow  much 
d'you  think  I  put  on  since  I  joined? "  "  'Ow  much?  " 
"One  stone  eight.  One — stone — yte!"  "Oh,  go 
an'  scratch  your  neck  with  a  broken  bottle,"  his  wife 

98 


GRUB 

jeers  across  the  'bus  at  him  with  a  facetiousness 
learned  in  the  music-halls.  "  'E's  always  boastin' 
about  wot  'e  eats,"  she  tells  the  starved  one.  "  'E 
wants  'is  blasted  fish  filleted  now  !  "  ... 

There  you  have  scraps  of  conversation,  not 
invented  in  imitation  of  Mr.  Pett  Ridge,  but  set 
down  as  literally  as  memory  and  an  incapacity  for 
the  correct  misspelling  of  dialect  will  allow.  They 
are  typical  of  many  soldiers'  conversations  that  have 
recently  reached  one's  ears  in  fragments.  They  are 
typical,  I  believe,  of  the  way  in  which  not  all,  but 
hundreds  of  thousands  of  soldiers  talk.  "  All  the 
boys  as  fit  as  fiddles,"  said  a  soldier  to  me  some 
time  ago,  describing  his  regiment,  "and  the  last 
thing  you'd  'ear  anybody  mention  is  the  war!  "  No 
doubt  soldiers,  like  journalists,  have  their  thoughts 
about  Huns  and  the  other  things  that  are  written 
about  in  the  newspapers.  But,  unlike  journalists, 
they  do  not  devote  twenty-four  hours  of  the  day  to 
rhetoric.  They  hold  fast  to  the  more  solid  and  per- 
manent human  interests.  They  do  not  make  haste 
to  anticipate  horrors  as  do  the  "  realize-the-war  " 
school  of  speech-makers  and  leader-writers.  They 
are  patient  of  the  passing  day,  and  while  there  is 
sport  to  be  had  or  food  and  drink  calling  for  praise, 
they  are  not  to  be  intimidated  out  of  their  enjoy- 
ments. This,  perhaps,  would  not  be  a  possible 
attitude  for  an  entire  nation  in  time  of  war.  It  may 
even  be  argued  that  it  would  not  be  a  desirable 
attitude  for  an  entire  nation  in  time  of  peace.  But, 
whether  in  peace  or  war,  how  infinitely  healthier 
and  more  efficient  it  is  than  that  rake's  progress  of 
hysterics  without  ideals  which  appeals  to  so  many 
people  just  now  as  the  most  heroic  form  of 
patriotism.  .  .  . 

It  is  amazing,  considering  how  curious  and  in- 
satiate is  the  human  appetite,  that  so  little  has  been 
written  in  praise  of  food.  There  has  probably  been 

99 


GRUB 

less  good  poetry  written  in  praise  of  eating  than  of 
any  other  decent  human  pleasure.  Drinking  has 
always  been  recognised  as  a  proper  subject  of 
poetry,  but  eating  has  only  been  introduced  into 
literature  comically  and  by  the  satirists.  When 
Horace  wrote  of  wine,  he  wrote  as  a  worshipper. 
When  he  wrote  of  food,  he  wrote  scornfully  as  an 
abstemious  man  who  was  content  with  beans.  To 
be  comparably  abstemious  with  wine  has  at  many 
periods  been  thought  actually  discreditable ;  as  in 
Athens,  where  the  enemies  of  Demosthenes  tried  to 
injure  him  by  denouncing  him  as  a  water-drinker. 
Abstemiousness  in  food,  on  the  other  hand,  has 
always  been  regarded  as  the  mark  of  a  hero  and 
philosopher ;  gluttony,  of  a  villain.  Sulla  was  a 
glutton.  Cyrus,  Caesar,  and  most  of  the  great  con- 
querors, were  careless  about  food.  Could  Juliet 
have  fallen  in  love  with  Romeo  if  he  had  had  the 
gut  of  Trimalchio  ?  Has  there  ever  been  a  lover  in 
literature  who  ate  to  excess  ?  Even  the  authors  who 
have  praised  eating  with  most  enthusiasm  have  sel- 
dom praised  it  apart  from  liquor,  though  they  never 
scruple  to  praise  liquor  apart  from  food.  The 
aesthetes  dwelt  lovingly  on  ortolans,  but  it  was 
ortolans  plus  Chambertin.  What  man  of  letters 
has  ever  glorified  a  teetotal  dinner  of  six  or  seven 
courses  ?  It  would  seem  too  disgusting.  Perhaps 
in  each  of  us  there  lingers  just  a  suspicion  of  disgust 
against  eating.  We  have  no  pleasure  in  contem- 
plating all  this  energy  of  chewing  and  insalivation. 
There  is  humiliation  in  being  so  much  of  a  beast. 
It  was  some  sense  of  this  that  made  Byron  detest 
the  sight  of  a  beautiful  woman  eating.  Probably 
there  is  a  stage  in  the  lives  of  many  sensitive  young 
amorists  at  which  they  share  this  detestation. 
Women  used  to  be  more  aware  of  this  than  they 
now  are.  In  the  Victorian  era,  if  we  can  trust  the 
records,  the  girl  who  aifected  to  be  unable  to  cope 

100 


GRUB 

with  the  undivided  wing  of  a  chicken  was  common 
enough  at  genteel  tables.  The  genteel  small  appetite 
has  disappeared  as  a  convention.  But  in  the  bloom 
of  life,  it  may  be,  lovers  are  still  given  to  fasting  in 
each  other's  company,  not  so  much  because  they  are 
absent-minded  as  because  they  have  a  feeling  that 
eating  is  no  business  for  creatures  of  ecstasy  such  as 
they.  It  is  all  part  of  the  ancient  disparagement  of 
the  appetite.  Mr.  Chesterton,  if  I  remember  right, 
once  justified  the  praise  of  liquor  rather  than  the 
solid  foods  on  the  ground  that  drinking  has  spiritual 
and  imaginative  effects  such  as  are  unknown  to  the 
mere  eater.  An  excess  of  beer  opens  a  door  into  a 
kingdom,  if  it  be  only  for  a  moment.  An  excess  of 
ham  sandwiches — I  think  Mr.  Chesterton  used  rail- 
way-station  ham  sandwiches  in  his  illustration — only 
leaves  the  stodgy  man  stodgier  than  before.  When 
Mr.  Chesterson  argued  on  these  lines  he  had  not 
seen  the  gleam  that  comes  into  the  eye  of  a 
twentieth-century  soldier  at  the  mention  of  duck  and 
green  peas.  One  of  the  most  remarkable  results  of 
the  European  war  has  been  a  great  diminution  in 
the  praise  of  liquor  and  a  parallel  increase  in  the 
glorification  of  beef  and  bread. 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  the  common  man  has  never 
been  a  miser  in  his  appreciation  of  food.  It  is  only 
the  poets  and  genteel  persons  who  have  pretended 
that  eating  is  something  which  ought  not  to  be  dis- 
cussed in  polite  society.  Literature  is  a  form  of 
intoxication,  and  so  men  of  letters,  like  other  artists, 
have  never  tired  of  praising  Bacchus  and  Venus. 
But  the  common  people  still  march  in  the  train  of 
Ceres,  and  anthropologists  tell  us  that  even  our 
Easter  holidays  are  a  celebration  of  the  rebirth  of 
the  food  supply.  They  go  so  far  as  to  suggest 
that  Christianity  originated  in  the  worship  of  a 
vegetation  deity.  Bethlehem,  they  assure  us,  should 
be  translated  the  House  of  Bread.  I  confess  to  a 

101 


GRUB 

rooted  scepticism  in  regard  to  theories  which  over- 
simplify, but  it  would  scarcely  be  possible  to  exagger- 
ate the  part  which  concern  for  the  food  supply  has 
played  in  the  history  of  religion.  Even  the  Promised 
Land,  which  is  still  for  so  many  Christians  the  symbol 
of  that  Paradise  from  which  we  are  exiles,  has  always 
been  painted  in  terms  of  food  as  a  land  flowing  with 
milk  and  honey.  Man  in  the  early  days  was  eager 
to  eat  his  Eden.  He  was  eager  to  eat  his  god. 
Food  seemed  to  him  a  sort  of  insecure  and  divine 
miracle.  If  he  had  been  born  intelligent  he  would 
have  realized  that  the  world  was  so  replete  with  food 
that  there  was  no  need  to  make  such  a  fuss  about 
them.  But  man  was  not  born  intelligent.  He  has 
not  even  yet  grown  intelligent.  He  is  still  in  a  sweat 
about  his  food  as  though  there  were  not  enough  to 
go  round,  and  each  of  us  had  to  steal  his  portion  at 
the  expense  of  a  neighbour.  The  air  is  winged  with 
food ;  the  sea  and  the  rivers  that  fall  into  the  sea 
pour  it  in  shoals  from  sunrise  to  sunset  and  from 
pole  to  pole ;  the  earth  is  coloured  and  clamorous 
with  it.  It  is  as  if  every  landscape  were  loud  with 
eatable  things.  The  golden  age  of  plenty  has  always 
been  with  us  if  we  had  but  cared  to  live  in  it.  One 
might  parody  Stevenson  and  say  with  truth  that 
"the  world  is  so  full  of  eatable  things,  I'm  sure  we 
should  all  be  as  happy  as  kings."  But  we  have  pre- 
ferred to  doubt  the  exuberant  earth  and  to  malign 
her  for  a  niggard.  If  we  had  any  real  reverence  for 
the  earth  we  would  no  more  dream  of  acquiescing  in 
private  ownership  of  food  than  of  acquiescing  in 
private  ownership  of  the  air.  True,  our  food  has  a 
thousand  enemies  in  the  ardour  of  the  sun  and 
plagues  and  tempests  and  rains,  and  Nature  is  not 
such  a  prodigal  as  to  teach  us  to  be  fools.  But  it  is 
seldom,  at  least  in  these  climates,  that  she  will  refuse 
her  children  bread.  If  any  man  goes  hungry  it  is 
less  likely  that  Nature  is  at  fault  than  that  humanity 

102 


GRUB 

has  blundered.  May  one  hope  that  the  multiplica- 
tion of  good  meals  which  has  been  brought  about  by 
the  war  will  remain  as  a  permanent  social  fact  when 
the  war  is  over  ?  One  hears  it  continually  said  that 
an  army  marches  on  its  stomach.  Is  not  this  as 
true  of  a  nation  as  of  an  army  ?  It  may  be  all  very 
well  to  be  careless  of  our  own  food,  like  Montaigne, 
who  always  ate  the  dish  nearest  to  him,  or  Thoreau, 
who  declared  he  could  dine  off  a  fried  rat,  but  the 
virtue  of  carelessness  about  the  food  of  others  is  less 
obvious.  .  .  . 

Perhaps  the  best  thing  that  could  happen  to 
European  society  would  be  that  we  should  all  begin 
to  imitate  the  soldiers,  and  confess  our  meals  one  to 
another,  the  rich  to  the  poor,  the  landlord  to  the 
labourer,  at  casual  meetings  in  the  streets  and  on 
'buses.  One  would  like  to  see  a  duke  pausing  at  the 
gates  of  Hyde  Park  to  exchange  accounts  of  the 
previous  day's  meals  with  a  road-sweeper.  Not  that 
a  duke  is  necessarily  more  greedy  than  a  journalist. 
But,  generally  speaking,  he  is  more  symbolic  of  vast 
wealth  and  of  a  world  in  which  neither  tinned  sal- 
mon nor  tripe  is  regarded  as  a  luxury.  One  would 
like,  too,  to  see  a  bishop  button-holing  a  docker  and 
explaining  to  him  with  tears  in  his  eyes  how  he  had 
given  up  dessert  as  a  war-time  economy.  Mutual 
confessions  of  this  kind  would  surely  make  for  a 
better  understanding  between  (in  the  jingling  phrase) 
the  classes  and  the  masses.  .  .  .  Ultimately  they 
might  even  lead  to  the  institution  of  one  of  the 
most  necessary  forms  of  human  equality — equality 
(more  or  less)  of  dinners. 


103 


ON  TAKING  A  WALK    IN 
LONDON 

There  was  a  Londoner  who  confessed  the  other 
day  that  he  had  taken  to  walking  a  part  of  the  way 
to  his  office  in  the  morning.  He  does  not  do  it  for 
pleasure,  he  said.  He  does  not  do  it  for  economy. 
He  does  it  from  a  feeling  that  at  a  time  when  so 
many  human  beings  are  engaged  in  physical  combat 
one  ought  to  keep  one's  body  from  falling  below  a 
certain  level  of  fitness.  He  finds  these  morning 
walks,  he  declares,  dull  beyond  words.  He  only 
manages  to  get  through  them  by  counting  his  steps 
as  he  walks.  He  finds  interest  in  the  discovery  that 
the  number  of  steps  he  takes  to  a  mile  does  not  vary 
beyond  five  or  six  from  one  day  to  another.  He  also 
enjoys  marking  the  quarter-miles  along  the  way  by 
lamp-posts,  pillar-boxes  and  other  signs.  Is  London, 
then,  such  a  desert  to  the  senses  as  is  implied  by 
this  ?  Other  men  have  asserted  that  it  is  a  second 
Bagdad,  and  that  one  has  only  to  pass  behind  a 
wall  to  discover  a  painted  and  mysterious  life  sur- 
passing the  Arabian  Nights.  Certainly,  in  so  popu- 
lous a  city,  to  which  ships  come  from  the  islands 
at  the  bottom  of  the  world,  where  men  of  curious 
colours  dwell,  it  would  be  surprising  if  everything 
were  prosaic.  One  can  more  easily  believe  that 
romance  sits  like  a  secret  in  every  window,  and  that 
out  of  every  door  beauty  and  adventure  may  sud- 
denly appear.  There  is  not  a  stucco  house  in  a 
stucco  street  but  a  door  may  open  at  any  moment, 
and  out  may  come  a  Chinaman,  or  an  Irishman,  or 

104 


ON  TAKING  A  WALK  IN  LONDON 

a  Jewess.  As  one  grows  older  one  forgets  that  this 
is  so,  or  becomes  indifferent.  But  even  a  bald  man 
has  only  to  see  the  life  of  a  street  represented  on  a 
cinematograph  to  realize  how  interesting  and  un- 
expected it  all  is.  If  we  were  a  higher  race  of  beings, 
how  excited  we  should  be  by  the  records  of  the  life 
and  vanities  of  these  human  animals  passing  in  and 
out  of  their  burrows !  They  are  more  amazing  than 
ants.  They  are  funnier  than  penguins.  They  look 
now  like  bears,  now  like  eagles,  now  like  sheep,  now 
like  serpents.  They  are  all  the  animals  in  turn, 
except  that  they  walk  on  two  legs  and  have  pink 
or  brown  or  yellow  skins.  How  can  we  pass  the 
burrows,  caves  and  nests  of  this  oddest  of  the  families 
of  creatures  and  yet  feel  uninterested  as  if  we  were 
walking  between  blank  walls  ?  Or  is  there  a  genuine 
reason  for  our  dullness  ?  Is  there  something  tedious 
about  these  human  houses  which  we  do  not  find  in 
nests  and  the  lairs  of  beasts  ?  Perhaps  there  is. 
The  eagle,  we  may  be  sure,  builds  his  nest  solely  with 
a  view  to  its  excellence  as  a  nest.  The  wasp  hangs 
its  house  in  the  thorn-bush  with  no  thought  but  of 
living  happily  in  it.  The  coral  insect — if  it  is  an 
insect — I  speak  without  prejudice — raises  a  structure 
more  wonderful  than  the  Pyramids  above  the  surface 
of  the  sea  without  any  notion  of  letting  it  out  after- 
wards at  a  profit.  It  is  not  mere  indulgence  in  the 
luxury  of  morality  when  one  sees  in  this  the  reason 
why  the  houses  of  animals  are  so  interesting  and  the 
houses  of  human  beings  so  dull.  If  each  of  us  built 
his  own  house,  like  Thoreau,  or — for  that  is  impos- 
sible— if  they  were  built  singlemindedly  for  the  use 
and  pleasure  of  those  who  have  to  live  in  them,  our 
streets  would  become  rich  in  individuality  and  sig- 
nificance. As  it  is,  the  taint  of  trade  is  upon  them. 
They  are  built  by  men  who  desire  to  foist  upon  us 
a  minimum  of  excellence  for  a  maximum  of  profit. 
How  could  a  decent  house  grow  up  in  this  spirit  ? 

105 


ON  TAKING  A  WALK  IN  LONDON 

How  could  beauty  come  out  of  so  profane  a  door  ? 
How  could  mystery  sit  at  so  mean  a  window  ? 

The  truth  is  there  are  few  streets  or  avenues  in 
London  which,  so  far  as  the  houses  are  concerned, 
justify  themselves  as  a  walk  on  a  fine  summer 
morning.  One  has  to  turn  from  the  houses  them- 
selves to  the  eccentricities  of  the  human  animals 
that  scurry  and  crawl  and  glide  along  the  pavements. 
One  will  not  easily  get  tired  in  London  so  long  as 
one  is  interested  in  observing  the  shapes  of  men  and 
women  and  children.  Here  are  seven  millions  of 
them,  each  as  different  from  the  other  as  two  nations, 
most  of  them  walking  up  and  down  streets,  or  up  and 
down  shops,  or  up  and  down  stairs  all  their  lives. 
One  would  imagine  that  it  would  require  a  city  even 
to  bury  their  dead  bodies  :  one  would  imagine  that 
seven  million  bodies  could  not  be  smuggled  into  the 
earth  without  raising  a  mountain  on  its  surface.  It 
is  morbid,  however,  and,  for  all  we  know,  false,  to 
regard  man  too  consistently  as  a  doomed  creature. 
His  doom  may  be  a  mere  incident — a  mere  slough- 
ing of  a  skin — in  the  adventures  of  a  god.  As  he 
walks  the  streets  of  London  he  is,  to  be  sure,  a  god 
a  little  dilapidated,  a  god  shambling,  a  god  that  has 
seen  better  days.  He  may  be  a  god  with  a  stiff  neck 
or  (as  you  may  infer  from  the  advertisements)  a  god 
with  a  bad  leg.  He  may  be  a  god  with  disasters  in 
every  passage  in  the  labyrinth  of  his  body — the 
passages  of  breath  and  blood  and  bile.  But  be  he 
diseased  or'  crippled,  or  be  he  hidden  under  a  silk 
hat,  the  seer  will  discover  him  and  announce  the 
glory  of  his  origin  and  his  end.  The  seer  may,  of 
course,  be  a  liar,  but  he  has  at  least  discovered  a 
means  of  bringing  space  and  brightness  into  the 
streets.  He  sees  even  grocers  as  slim-cheeked  cari- 
catures of  divinity — grocers  who  try  to  make  you 
buy  Danish  butter  instead  of  the  butter  you  want 
on  the  ground  that  "  the  Danes,  you  know,  are  per- 

106 


ON  TAKING  A  WALK  IN  LONDON 

fectly  loyal  to  us,  sir,"  or  apologize  for  not  serving 
you  with  a  Dutch  cheese  on  the  plea  that  "  trade 
with  Holland  has  fallen  off  during  the  war.  The 
Dutch,  I  fear,  madam,  favour  the  other  side."  No 
street  that  contains  a  grocer's  shop  is  entirely  dull. 
If  you  find  it  so,  go  in  and  see  the  grocer — that 
starveling  Zeus  in  shirt-sleeves  who  commands  the 
map  of  the  world  for  the  materials  on  which  he 
makes  his  penny  profits.  Tea  from  China  and  Ceylon, 
dates  from  Persia,  olives  from  Italy,  coffee  from 
Arabia,  oranges  from  Spain,  nuts  from  Brazil,  oil 
from  Mexico,  sago  from  Borneo,  rice  from  Java, 
pine-apples  from  Australia,  fish  (in  tins)  from  the 
seven  seas,  nutmegs  and  pepper  from  blue-robed 
islands,  almost  everything  in  his  shop  a  seafarer — 
one  has  only  to  look  into  the  man's  window  to  travel. 
He  does  not,  it  may  be,  display  the  profuse  colours 
of  foreign  countries  to  us  as  the  fruiterer  does.  He 
does  not  communicate  the  glory  of  the  earth,  but 
rather  he  has  tinned  and  bottled  and  spiced  and 
weighed  and  papered  it  as,  to  say  truth,  he  would 
pack  up  the  Milky  Way  itself  in  blue  and  brown  bags 
if  it  were  saleable.  But  none  the  less  he  is  tied  to 
romance  as  by  a  string.  He  mixes  romance  with 
his  prose  as  when  he  magnificently  describes  himself 
as  an  Italian  warehouseman. 

But  there  are  streets  in  London  into  which  not 
even  the  grocers' shops  bring  any  brightness.  There 
are  streets  so  dismal  that  they  could  scarcely  be 
more  so  if  every  house-front  were  hung  with  crape. 
Malodorous,  unswept,  grey,  they  are  haunts  of 
butchers'  flies,  they  reek  with  the  smell  of  fried 
fish  and  green  peas,  their  windows  are  all  sweat 
and  dust,  the  confectioners  sell  picture-postcards  of 
squeezing  couples,  the  newsagents  sell  snuff  and  to- 
bacco, a  shave  costs  three-halfpence,  old  clothes 
dangle  on  cords  outside  the  second-hand  clothes 
shops  and  defeat  the  fried  fish  with  a  worse  smell. 

107 


ON  TAKING  A  WALK  IN  LONDON 

They  would  be  like  streets  of  the  dead  if  the  placard 
of  a  Northcliffe  paper  did  not  at  intervals  proclaim 
panic  outside  a  newsagent's  shop  in  purple  and 
scarlet  letters.  Who  would  willingly  go  walking  in 
such  a  sty  ?  It  is  no  wonder  that  man  has  fled  under- 
ground from  such  sights  and  smells  in  his  daily 
travels.  London,  taken  as  a  whole,  is  a  city  of  mean 
streets.  That  humanity  with  its  heroism  and  its 
cheerful  laughter  has  survived  existence  in  these  rows 
of  hired  stalls  suggests  that  the  seer  who  spies  a  god 
in  man  is  nearer  the  truth  than  the  pessimist  who 
spies  an  insect.  Perhaps  it  is  a  sort  of  genteel 
cowardice,  but,  in  spite  of  this,  there  are  many  of  us 
who  would  rather  our  children  had  never  been 
born  than  that  they  should  be  born  into  such  sur- 
roundings. .  .  . 

But  I  had  intended  to  speak  of  the  pleasures  of 
walking  in  London,  of  the  constant  sense  of  dis- 
covery as  one  passes  the  doors,  of  the  constant 
speculation  on  one  thing  and  another.  London 
bubbles  with  sights.  There  is  entertainment  even 
in  the  sight  of  a  sweep's  broom  over  a  shop  with  the 
announcement  that  the  proprietor  combines  the  pro- 
fessions of  chimney-sweep  and  carpet-beater.  It 
seems  absurd  for  some  reason  or  other  that  a  sweep 
should  beat  carpets.  One  comes  again  on  a  sign  in 
a  shabby  street,  "  Ostrich  feathers  cleaned,  French 
and  English  style,"  and  one  is  pleased  to  have  added 
to  one's  list  of  queer  trades.  Nor  does  one  ever 
cease  to  be  fascinated  by  the  sight  of  those  glass 
cases  full  of  false  teeth  which  are  displayed  outside 
the  doorways  of  cheap  dentists.  They  are  horrible, 
they  are  ugly,  they  are  worse  than  butchers'  shops. 
But  there  is  a  kind  of  mockery  in  them,  as  in  skele- 
tons, which  pleases  us.  They  are  a  jeer  at  the  beauty 
of  man.  And  when  we  see  beneath  them  the  notice, 
"  Old  false  teeth  bought,"  we  get  a  shudder  of  repul- 
sion such  as  we  never  got  from  Baudelaire.  Who 

108 


ON  TAKING  A  WALK  IN  LONDON 

is  it  that  sells  old  false  teeth  ?  Where  do  they  come 
from  ?  From  the  mouth  of  a  dead  man  ?  Who 
wears  them  afterwards  ?  This  is  speculation  among 
horrors.  .  .  . 

Perhaps,  if  you  want  to  feel  comfortable,  you  had 
better  take  no  walks  in  London  except  in  the  parks 
and  squares  and  down  Piccadilly  and  along  the  river. 
In  the  daytime  at  any  rate.  At  night  it  is  different. 
Night  turns  London  from  a  collection  of  suburbs 
into  a  stage,  and  one  passes  into  a  world  of  wonder- 
ful and  fleeting  figures  which  seem  capable  of  love 
and  murder  and  beauty  and  everything  except  what 
is  commonplace.  This  is  especially  so  since  the 
lights  were  lowered  owing  to  the  war.  Lamps  that 
used  to  gleam  like  great  flares  now  peep  like  dying 
candles  high  above  the  Tartarean  streets.  One 
imagines  that  a  city  lit  by  glow-worms  would  be 
less  pitch-black  than  this.  The  low  lighting  has  had 
at  least  the  fortunate  effect  of  enabling  us  to  see  the 
buildings  and  streets  in  mass  instead  of  in  detail ; 
they  loom  out  of  the  night  with  an  unexpected  ma- 
jesty. To  walk  in  London  at  night  in  these  times 
cannot  be  so  much  less  wonderful  than  to  have 
walked  among  the  temples  of  Athens  by  starlight. 
It  is  by  many  people,  indeed,  being  revelled  in  as  a 
luxury.  .  .  .  That  is  why  the  lights  must  be 
turned  on  again,  full  blaze,  as  soon  as  the  war  is 
over.  We  must  never  be  allowed  to  enjoy  walking 
in  London  till  London  has  been  made  fit  to  walk  in. 
And  that  will  not  be  till  it  is  as  fit  to  live  in  as,  in 
their  own  kinds,  an  ant-hill  or  a  bird's  nest. 


109 


WHITE    CITIZENS 

At  the  last  door  on  the  left  my  papers  were  taken 
from  me,  and  I  was  told  to  sit  down  and  wait.  There 
was  a  flat  wooden  form  outside  the  door.  Down  the 
middle  of  the  hall  other  long  seats  had  been  laid 
back  to  back,  and  a  hundred  or  more  weary-looking 
men  sat  on  them,  some  of  them  talking  to  each  other, 
some  of  them  silently  gazing  into  space  or  shifting 
their  thin  legs  on  the  uncomfortable  seats.  They 
had,  all  of  them,  I  think,  been  medically  rejected  at 
a  previous  examination.  Some  of  them  certainly  did 
not  look  the  part — at  least,  not  in  their  clothes.  But 
most  of  them  had  the  wasted  appearance,  so  common 
in  London,  of  half-sucked  pear-drops.  Among  them 
a  little  hunchback  sat,  dangling  his  feet  solitarily; 
another  man  sat  at  the  far  side  of  the  hall,  a 
well-dressed  man,  his  shoulders  and  head  twitching 
beyond  control.  On  the  whole,  they  were  a  lean 
and  depressed  company.  A  lean  man  in  a  bowler-hat 
and  glasses,  who  sat  beside  me,  told  me  that  he  had 
just  recovered  from  pleuro-pneumonia.  The  sun 
came  swelteringly  in  on  us  through  the  glass  roof 
where  the  awning  had  fallen  to  pieces  and  hung 
down  ragged  and  dirty.  Everywhere  one  had  a 
vision  of  melting  brows,  of  veins  swelling  on  temples, 
of  veins  swelling  on  hands.  One  turned  one's  eyes 
from  the  men  to  the  walls  and  read  an  endless 
number  of  ugly  yellow  posters  giving  particulars 
about  separation  allowances  for  soldiers'  wives  and 
blazoning  forth  mottoes  such  as:  "You  are  helping 
the  Germans  if  you  use  a  motor-car  for  pleasure." 
One  waited  for  something  to  happen,  but  for  a  long 
time  nothing  happened.  Occasionally  a  soldier  or  an 

no 


WHITE    CITIZENS 

old  wrinkled  clerk  would  come  out  of  a  door  with  a 
paper  in  his  hand  and  walk  leisurely  to  another  door. 
He  would  be  watched  on  his  passage  as  by  Argus. 
He  would  disappear  and  leave  us  in  dullness.  He 
would  reappear  and  a  crowd  of  eyes  would  once 
more  follow  him  from  door  to  door.  Sometimes  a 
fat,  bright-eyed  young  Jew,  with  a  smile  that  never 
changed  either  to  spread  or  diminish,  would  stop 
one  of  these  people  in  order  to  make  sure  that  his 
case  had  not  been  missed.  .  .  . 

One  hoped  it  would  be  all  over  by  lunch-time. 
The  dapper  man,  tall  as  a  tree  and  thin  as  a  skeleton, 
who  had  brought  the  Times  with  him  and  was 
working  through  it  column  by  column,  would  soon 
have  reached  the  last  page.  At  length  a  soldier  with 
a  big  stomach  came  out  of  a  room  with  an  armful 
of  papers  and  began  calling  out  names.  People  rose 
from  all  sides  and  gathered  round  him  like  hens 
hurrying  to  a  meal.  He  shouted  them  back  to  their 
seats  and  ordered  that  none  but  those  he  named 
should  approach  him.  Then  he  called  out  another 
name.  "  Here  !  "  answered  a  voice  sharp  as  a  rifle- 
shot. The  soldier  paused  and  looked  at  the  little 
man  running  up  to  him.  "You've  been  in  the  Army 
before,"  he  said.  "  Yes,  sergeant,"  the  little  man 
admitted.  "I  knew  it,"  said  the  sergeant;  "no  place 
like  the  Army  for  learning  manners."  He  then  began 
to  march  down  the  hall  roaring  names,  as  it  were, 
out  of  the  back  of  his  head,  like  a  railway-porter 
shouting  out  a  list  of  stations.  He  was  followed  by 
a  draggle  of  men  anxiously  listening  in  the  hope  of 
recognising  their  own  names  amid  the  inarticulate 
bellowing.  Another  soldier  began  to  call  out  other 
names  at  the  far  end  of  the  hall.  After  each  list 
was  ended,  the  men  who  had  not  been  mentioned 
sat  back  and  shook  their  heads  at  each  other  with 
resigned  smiles.  An  official  passing  by  stooped 
down  and  commented :  "  It's  a  bloody  farce.  They'll 

ill 


WHITE    CITIZENS 

examine  a  hundred  men  and  not  get  ten.  You'll 
see." 

For  a  farce,  I  confess,  I  found  it  dull.  I  thought 
that  cattle  penned  up  closely  at  a  fair  and  left  unsold 
till  the  end  of  a  hot  day  must  feel  very  much  as  we 
did.  In  the  end  the  soldier  with  the  big  stomach 
came  out  and  told  us  that  we  shouldn't  be  examined 
before  lunch  now,  and  that  we  might  go  away  for 
three-quarters  of  an  hour  and  have  something  to  eat. 
I  went  into  the  street  and  bought  a  Star  to  see  what 
had  happened  in  the  outside  world.  I  felt  that  a 
great  battle  might  easily  have  been  won  while  I  was 
waiting  on  the  hard  bench  outside  the  wooden  room 
in  the  hall  of  the  White  City.  I  saw  a  Lyons  tea- 
shop  and  suggested  to  the  man  who  had  had  pneu- 
monia that  we  might  go  and  have  some  coffee.  "  I 
have  never  been  in  a  Lyons's  shop,"  he  said  hesita- 
tingly, "what  is  it  like?"  I  did  not  know  that  such 
innocence  existed  in  London.  "  I  always  prefer  a 
cook-shop  myself,"  he  said,  with  a  sad  look  up  and 
down,  and  he  walked  across  the  road  to  a  public-house. 

When  I  got  back  to  the  White  City  I  ran  into 
another  man  who  had  also  had  pneumonia.  He 
drew  a  little  square  figure  in  the  air  with  his  fore- 
finger and  told  me  that  there  was  a  patch  of  that 
size  missing  from  his  right  lung.  I  sat  down  on  a 
bench  beside  him.  "  Do  you  mind  if  I  smoke  an 
asthma  cigarette  ? "  he  said,  as  though  it  were  a 
jest,  and  lit  one.  We  had  hardly  begun  to  talk 
when  a  man  with  heart-disease  came  up — a  tall, 
pallid  young  man,  very  straight  in  the  back,  with 
a  man-of-the-world  smile  and  a  man-of-the-world 
cigarette.  He  said  that  he  had  just  been  examined 
and  had  been  ordered  to  undergo  a  special  examin- 
ation at  a  heart  hospital.  "  I  regard  that  as  a 
distinctly  hopeful  sign,"  he  said.  Soldiers  and  clerks 
continued  to  walk  at  intervals  from  door  to  door, 
and  occasionally  one  of  the  soldiers  would  march  off 

112 


WHITE    CITIZENS 

with  a  brood  of  invalids  to  the  dressing-room.  The 
rest  of  us  said,  "  Hard  luck !  "  and  waited  prostrate 
with  the  heat  for  the  next  roll-call.  A  man  at  the 
far  end  of  the  hall  opened  a  lemonade  stall.  I  took 
Scott's  Lives  of  the  Novelists  out  of  my  pocket  and 
tried  to  read  it.  In  five  minutes  I  put  it  back  again, 
yawning.  I  continued  to  yawn  for  three  solid  hours 
— hours  as  solid  and  heavy  as  lead.  I  had  arrived 
at  eleven  in  the  morning.  It  was  half-past  four 
before  I  heard  my  name  called,  and  was  taken  with 
a  number  of  other  men  into  a  wooden  hutch  and 
told  to  undress.  Clothes  were  lying  all  about  as  in  a 
bathing-box.  Some  men  were  struggling  into  their 
trousers;  others  were  clambering  out  of  them.  One 
little  man  who  had  just  been  examined  was  the  skin- 
niest human  being  I  ever  saw.  He  had  not  enough 
flesh  on  his  bones  to  make  a  decent-sized  chicken. 
He  was  as  bald  as  a  block  of  ice  save  for  a  fringe  of 
grey  hairs  on  each  side  of  his  skull,  and  altogether 
he  looked  in  his  glasses  like  a  little  wizened  creature 
of  seventy.  Other  men  were  to  be  seen  wearing 
belts,  bands  and  trusses  round  various  parts  of  their 
bodies.  One  felt  at  times  as  though  one  must  be 
at  a  holy  well  among  people  who  were  awaiting 
miraculous  cures  rather  than  among  young  men  in 
the  prime  of  life  about  to  be  chosen  as  warriors  in  a 
great  war.  Horace  Walpole  once  declared,  on  an 
occasion  when  every  invalid  and  cripple  in  the  House 
of  Commons  had  been  whipped  up  to  vote  against 
John  Wilkes,  that  the  floor  of  the  House  looked  like 
nothing  so  much  as  the  Pool  of  Bethesda.  Here 
was  London's  Pool  of  Bethesda,  with  the  sick  and 
the  maimed  cursing  the  whole  business  indignantly 
under  their  breath.  Through  a  doorway  one  had  a 
view  of  the  examination-room,  which  was  full  of 
naked  men,  with  doctors  listening  at  their  chests 
or  making  them  dance  before  them  with  strange 
gestures.  We  were  permitted  to  wear  our  jackets 

113  I 


WHITE    CITIZENS 

as  a  part-covering  till  the  actual  examination  should 
begin.  Suddenly  the  half-naked  man  beside  me,  an 
attractive-looking  youth  with  delicately  curved  nose 
and  a  wing  of  gravel-coloured  hair,  closed  his  eyes 
and  drooped  his  head  like  a  dying  chicken.  He 
began  to  gasp,  and  his  head  swayed  backwards  and 
forwards  over  his  chest  like  a  ship  plunging  in  a 
heavy  sea.  I  wondered  if  he  was  about  to  have  a  fit 
or  was  dying.  I  saw  myself  skipping  forth,  a  pard- 
like  spirit  beautiful  and  swift,  in  my  little  short  jacket 
and  with  my  long  hairy  legs,  to  summon  the  assist- 
ance of  the  doctors  in  the  next  room.  "Are  you 
feeling  ill  ?  "  I  inquired.  "  No,  no,"  he  answered, 
opening  his  eyes  wearily;  "it's  only  asthma.  Haven't 
you  ever  seen  it  before  ?  "  Other  men  tripped  back 
from  being  examined :  some  of  them  with  patient, 
contemptuous  smiles;  others  flushed  with  indig- 
nation and  sprinkling  the  already  foul  air  with 
"bloodies,"  all  of  them  rather  like  undergraduates 
exchanging  experiences  after  an  "  oral."  I  watched 
a  bearded  doctor  in  his  shirt-sleeves  through  the 
doorway,  as  he  popped  his  stethoscope  over  a  chest 
that  seemed  to  me  to  be  the  chest  of  an  athlete. 

The  examination-room  itself  was  a  long  wooden 
room,  with  a  row  of  tables  littered  wi}h  books  of 
official  forms  and  papers,  and  with  clerks  writing 
slowly  at  them  as  though  each  separate  letter  were 
a  work  of  national  importance.  The  room  was 
divided  into  sections  by  red  screens.  In  every 
section  a  man  stood  in  his  skin  while  a  doctor 
examined  his  teeth  or  palpated  his  chest  or  jigged 
him  in  the  groin,  calling  out  such  things  as  "  vari- 
cocele  left "  to  the  clerks,  who  solemnly  wrote  it 
all  down.  The  doctors,  I  must  say,  were  a  good- 
humoured  lot.  If  one  was  disgusted,  it  was  when 
one's  eye  travelled  round  the  room  and  fell  on  a 
back  with  a  large  sore  patch  running  across  the 
small  of  it,  or  on  a  bucket  of  dirty  slops  with 

114 


WHITE    CITIZENS 

matches  and  cigarette-ends  floating  in  it  near  a  man 
who  was  being  tested  for  Bright's  disease.  I  con- 
fess I  could  not  help  laughing  as  some  long  string  of 
misery  was  ordered  to  prance  on  the  floor,  the  doctor 
bidding  him,  "  Now  swing  your  arms — now  rise  on 
your  toes — now  hop."  It  was  as  though  a  company 
of  Spanish  beggars  had  suddenly  reverted  to  the 
conditions  of  the  Garden  of  Eden  and  had  then 
been  bitten  by  the  tarantula.  How  indignantly  some 
of  them  danced  !  "  You  say  you  have  a  discharge 
from  the  right  ear  ?  "  the  doctor  would  say.  Then 
he  would  turn  to  one  of  the  clerks  and  repeat  to 
him :  "  Discharge  from  the  right  ear."  "  Now  cough," 
he  would  add,  seizing  the  recruit  by  the  crutch. 
Once  more,  as  I  looked  round,  I  thought  of  the  men 
who  had  been  called  up  as  cattle  at  a  fair  and  of  the 
doctors  as  butchers  and  farmers  going  the  rounds 
and  prodding  the  beasts  with  sticks,  sizing  up  their 
value  as  flesh. 

My  own  turn  came.  A  little  doctor  with  a  gentle 
light  on  his  face  like  a  Christian's  and  a  stethoscope 
hanging  round  his  neck  like  a  scapulary  called  me 
over.  I  had  to  write  my  name  once  or  twice.  He 
asked  me  gently  about  my  health.  I  ran  down  a 
list  of  diseases,  curable  and  incurable,  with  which 
various  doctors  had  strewed  my  path,  dogmatically 
contradicting  one  another.  One  of  them,  alas!  was 
written  on  me  like  a  crooked  note  of  exclamation. 
The  doctor  examined  my  heart,  my  pulse,  my 
tongue.  He  made  me  do  gymnastics  for  him.  He 
looked  down  my  throat  and  said,  "  Pharyngitis." 
As  the  clerk  seemed  to  hesitate,  he  began  to  spell  it: 

"P — h — a — r — y ."     He  covered  my  right   eye 

with  a  piece  of  cardboard  and  made  me  read  PENT 
from  a  card  hanging  on  the  wall.  He  covered  my 
left  eye  and  made  me  read  O  S  Q  D  F.  "  Sight  66," 
he  said  to  the  clerk.  He  weighed  me,  he  took  my 
height,  he  measured  my  chest  when  it  was  full  and 


WHITE    CITIZENS 

when  it  was  empty.  He  asked  me  if  I  had  ever  had 
rheumatic  fever  or  a  pain  in  my  ears.  He  then 
bade  me  wait  while  a  deaf  man  was  being  examined 
and,  after  him,  a  healthy-looking  man  who  kept 
putting  a  queer  instrument  up  his  nose. 

I  then  had  to  go  to  another  table  where  a  sturdy, 
cheerful  doctor  in  khaki  was  sitting — a  whitening- 
haired  man  in  gold-rimmed  glasses  with  a  gift  for 
making  diseased  and  naked  persons  smile  as  they 
passed  under  his  inquisition.  His  eyebrows  rose  as 
he  looked  at  my  figure.  "  How  did  you  come  to  get 
like  that?"  he  asked  in  amazement.  I  told  him  that 
it  was  the  result  of  an  idle  and  misspent  youth.  "Are 
you  an  Irishman  ? "  was  his  next  question.  I 
admitted  it.  "  Thy  speech  bewrayeth  thee,''  he  said. 
He  then  examined  my  heart,  and  showed  me  so 
much  considerateness  that  I  thought  it  must  be  very 
seriously  affected  indeed.  .  . 

Back  at  last  to  the  dressing-room,  where  men 
were  asking  each  other,  "  Did  they  pass  you  ?  "  and 
blaspheming.  A  long,  black,  consumptive  Scotsman 
was  saying :  "  It's  a  bloody  disgrace  to  call  up  a 
man  wi'  lungs  at  all."  Attendants  began  to  wash 
down  Ihe  hall  with  a  hose,  and  the  water  crept  in 
along  the  floor  of  the  dressing-room.  We  were 
taken  across  the  hall  to  another  room  and  told  to 
sign  our  names  in  a  book  in  order  that  we  might  be 
given  2s.  gd.  I  signed,  but  forgot  the  2s.  gd.  A 
Scottish  soldier  ran  after  me  with  it.  "  What  do 
you  mean  by  leaving  your  money  behind  you  ? "  he 
asked  warmly.  We  were  then  taken  to  yet  another 
room  and  left  at  the  door,  while  two  aged  men 
crouched  over  a  table  within  and  wrote  out  rejection 
certificates.  At  the  end  of  half  an  hour  or  so  my 
turn  to  go  in  came.  One  of  the  clerks  wrote  out  my 
certificate,  and  another  wrote  the  same  details  in  a 
book.  It  was  apparently  to  be  a  certificate  of  identity 
as  well  as  of  rejection.  "  Complexion — fresh,"  they 

116 


WHITE    CITIZENS 

wrote  down.  "  Eyes — what  colour  are  your  eyes  ?  " 
They  asked  me  had  I  any  scars  or  marks  on  my 
body.  I  told  them  no,  nothing  but  a  mole  or  two. 
"  Moles  will  do,"  they  said,  "  where  are  they  ?  "  I 
said  that  I  really  wasn't  quite  sure.  I  was  almost 
certain  there  was  one  on  my  right  side,  and  I  thought 
— though  I  wouldn't  swear  it — there  was  one  on  my 
left.  They  nodded  as  though  to  say  that  was  enough, 
and  wrote  down  on  my  card,  "  Moles  on  right  and 
left  flanks." 

I  had  been  at  the  White  City  since  the  morning. 
When  at  last  I  escaped  into  the  street  it  was  close 
upon  half-past  six.  I  felt  that  the  certificate  did  not 
exaggerate  in  describing  me  as  "  permanently  and 
totally  disabled." 

I  suddenly  remembered  the  two-and-ninepence. 

I  hailed  a  taxi  and  got  into  it,  moles  and  all. 


117 


ON  BEING  A  WORKING   MAN 

Those  who  were  most  bitter  against  Mr.  Lloyd 
George  when  he  preached  at  dukes  and  landlords 
are  applauding  him  most  loudly  now  that  he  has 
taken  to  preaching  at  working  men.  It  is  a  common 
belief  that  the  working  man  exists  to  be  preached  at, 
and  the  more  the  better.  He  is  the  anvil  upon 
which  the  hammer  of  rulers  and  masters  needs  to  be 
brought  down  at  regular  intervals  with  a  noise.  He 
is  the  bottom  dog,  the  black  sheep,  everything  that 
requires  the  strong  hand.  Like  the  black  man  in  Mr. 
Kipling's  poem,  he  is  half  devil  and  half  child.  He 
may  be  flattered  so  long  as  flattery  will  keep  him 
contented  in  his  place;  but  when  flattery  proves  un- 
availing, he  must  be  brought  to  heel  with  stern 
words,  and,  if  necessary,  with  sterner  deeds.  Canute 
saw  that  those  who  urged  him  to  utter  his  prohibi- 
tion, "  Thus  far  and  no  farther,"  to  the  incoming  sea 
were  (in  a  phrase  leader-writers  love)  knaves  and 
fools ;  but  the  Canutes  of  these  days  are  more  self- 
confident  as  they  bid  the  tide  of  labour  keep  its 
distance  and  not  encroach  too  far  on  the  fortunate 
shore  of  liberty,  equality,  and  fraternity.  The  truth 
is,  many  people  in  the  upper  and  middle  classes 
cannot  cease  regarding  working  people  as  members 
of  a  subject  race.  They  believe  that  working  men 
are  doing  their  duty  only  when  they  are  keeping 
quiet.  They  hire  an  exceeding  great  number  of 
mouths  and  pens  to  preach  to  the  workers  the 
doctrine  of  non-resistance.  Every  time  the  workers 
resort  even  to  passive  resistance,  it  is  not  long  till 
they  are  painted  as  wickeder  than  the  Huns  on  the 
Strength  of  some  isolated  street  incident.  They  are 


ON    BEING   A   WORKINGMAN 

denounced  as  disloyal  and  by  every  other  epithet 
that  can  suggest  that  they  are  enemies  of  the  State. 
Luther  told  the  German  peasants  when  they  rose  in 
rebellion :  "  They  ought  to  suffer  and  be  silent,  if 
they  want  to  be  Christians."  That  is  a  widely  held 
ideal  of  conduct  for  the  working  classes.  It  is  not 
preached  by  people  who  are  Tolstoyans;  it  is 
preached  by  men  who  hold  that  there  is  one  morality 
for  those  who  rule,  and  another  for  those  who  serve. 
That,  I  think,  must  be  one  of  the  trials  of  an  intelli- 
gent workingman's  life.  He  is  continually  treated  as 
though  he  were  a  different  kind  of  creature  from 
men  who  own  land  and  money  and  shops. 

It  is,  I  admit,  as  easy  to  sentimentalise  over  the 
working  man  as  to  abuse  him.  It  is  easy  to  see  him 
as  a  figure  of  tragic  simplicity,  something  painted 
by  Millet  or  sculptured  by  Rodin,  symbolizing  not 
merely  the  dignity  but  the  divinity  of  labour.  He 
is  in  this  view  Atlas  with  the  world  on  his  shoulders. 
He  is  the  builder  of  cities,  the  harvester  of  vineyards, 
the  discoverer  of  bread.  He  towers  above  us  like  a 
moral  lesson  rather  than  a  man.  He  holds  in  his 
hands  all  gifts,  and  statesmen  and  admirals  and 
millionaires  are  his  pensioners.  He  seems  perfec- 
tion incarnate  in  his  strength  and  endurance.  He 
has  the  air  of  a  messenger  from  Heaven  rather  than 
of  the  greasy  outcast  of  the  public-houses  painted  by 
his  enemies.  This  may  be  as  false  a  view  as  the 
other,  but  it  is  at  least  an  invention  ominous  of  a 
more  cheerful  world,  not  a  mere  caricature  scrawled 
by  hate.  It  emphasises  the  fact  that  the  working 
man  is,  above  all,  a  sufferer ;  he  suffers  in  order  that 
others  may  have  abundance.  It  may  be  argued  that 
he  does  not  really  suffer  so  acutely  as  those  for  whom 
he  suffers — that  his  imagination  is  dull  and  his 
sensibilities  blunted.  But  is  not  this  the  supreme 
suffering  of  all,  this  loss  of  the  power  to  suffer  ? 
Who  would  exchange  imagination  for  dullness — 

119 


ON    BEING   A   WORKINGMAN 

sensitiveness  of  body  and  soul  for  insensibility  ?  To 
do  so  is  to  commit  suicide ;  it  is  to  prefer  to  suffer 
death  rather  than  to  suffer  life.  But  as  a  matter  of  fact 
the  theory  of  the  insensibility  of  the  working  classes 
is  so  much  nonsense.  It  may  be  that  the  average 
working  man  is  curiously  insensitive  before  the 
beauty  of  some  blue-hooded  Madonna  of  Titian's ; 
but  then  so  is  the  average  peer  and  so  is  the  average 
manufacturer.  It  may  be  that  use  and  necessity 
have  made  him  comparatively  insensitive  to  the 
ugliness  of  stale  clothes  and  smelly  bedrooms  and 
two-year-old  whiskey.  But  he  is  sensitive  like  the 
rest  of  us  to  cold  and  heat,  to  the  difference  between 
a  full  belly  and  an  empty  one,  to  pain  and  pleasure, 
to  love  and  anger  and  hatred,  to  the  difference 
between  living  in  a  smaller  room  and  living  in  a 
larger  one,  between  being  bullied  and  being  treated 
like  a  reasonable  creature,  between  a  halfpenny 
and  a  sovereign,  between  living  in  a  pig-sty  of 
children  and  living  in  a  clean  and  smiling 
home,  between  a  day  at  Brighton  and  a  day  on 
the  operation  table,  between  looking  forward  to 
a  pension  and  looking  forward  to  the  workhouse, 
between  getting  ill  and  getting  well,  between 
living  and  dying.  Assuredly,  we  must  not  get 
into  the  habit  of  regarding  the  working  man  as  a 
person  who  may  be  knocked  about,  stuck  with  pins, 
exposed  to  the  elements,  and  generally  neglected 
without  injury,  like  certain  ugly-eyed  dolls  that 
children  love. 

Those  who  regard  the  working  man  as  a  different 
kind  of  being  from  themselves,  however,  seem  to 
think  that  the  only  way  in  which  one  can  do  him 
serious  damage  is  by  allowing  him  to  become  better 
off  than  he  is  at  present.  This  attitude  to  the 
working  classes  was  clearly  demonstrated  the  other 
day  in  the  West  London  police-court  when  the 
magistrate,  Mr.  Fordham,  lectured  a  soldier's  wife 

120 


ON   BEING   A   WORKINGMAN 

who  was  accused  of  disorderly  conduct.  I  have  no 
doubt  from  the  evidence  that  the  woman  deserved  a 
lecture,  but  Mr.  Fordham's  lecture  was  exactly  the 
kind  that  ought  not  to  have  been  delivered.  "  You 
are,"  he  told  the  unhappy  woman,  "getting  much 
too  large  an  allowance — an  allowance  which  really 
in  itself  drives  you  to  drink  and  to  squander  money. 
Probably  if  you  had  less  money  by  way  of  allowance, 
you  would  keep  much  more  sober."  If  Mr.  Fordham 
regards  it  as  his  mission  to  preach  gospel  poverty 
to  mankind  in  general,  his  lecture  is  in  a  measure 
justifiable.  But  if  he  does  not,  by  what  right  does 
he  address  his  condescending  middle-class  morali- 
sings  to  the  poor  instead  of  to  peeresses  and  the 
wives  and  daughters  of  millionaires  ?  Does  he  find 
in  the  world  about  him  that  it  is  money  which  drives 
people  to  drink  ?  Would  he  recommend  a  young 
lady  in  his  own  class  to  refuse  an  inheritance  on  the 
ground  that  it  would  bring  with  it  temptations  to 
drunkenness  ?  Does  he  find  that  the  more  one's 
salary  increases  the  more  one  feels  like  squandering 
it  on  alcohol  ?  He  knows  that  it  is  not  so.  Riches  are 
no  charm  against  drunkenness ;  but  it  is  not  excess 
of  money,  but  excess  of  poverty,  that  in  general 
drives  men  and  women  to  excess  of  drinking.  It  is 
in  the  slums,  not  in  the  Bishop's  palace  or  in  the 
country  house  or  in  the  villa,  that  drunkenness  is 
most  usual  in  these  days.  Mr.  Fordham's  lecture  is 
not  based  on  facts  but  is  merely  an  expression  of 
the  middle-class  suspicion  of  improvements  in  the 
position  of  working  people.  Working  men  are  not 
admitted  to  have  the  right  to  improve  their  position 
except  by  thrift.  Do  they  ask  for  more  money  ? 
They  are  denounced  on  the  ground  that,  if  they  got 
it,  they  would  only  drink  it.  Do  they  ask  for  more 
leisure?  They  are  denounced  because,  if  they  got  it, 
they  would  spend  it  in  the  public-houses.  Do  they 
ask  for  more  power?  They  are  denounced  for 

121 


ON    BEING   A  WORKINGMAN 

plotting  death,  disaster,  and  damnation  against  the 
State.  In  a  State  which  glories  in  competition  they 
are  forbidden  to  compete  except  against  each  other ; 
if  they  enter  into  the  larger  competition  for  the 
country's  wealth,  they  are  accused  of  tyranny,  red 
ruin,  and  the  breaking  up  of  laws.  They  are  the  bad 
boys  of  the  family,  whom  it  is  always  safe  to  blame. 
Whenever  any  dispute  arises  between  them  and  their 
employers,  they  are  almost  invariably  regarded  as 
the  aggressors.  The  employer  who  insists  that  war 
shall  be  the  occasion  of  lower  real  wages  and  larger 
profits  is  looked  on  as  a  sensible  business  man.  The 
worker  who  demands  that  during  war-time  his 
children's  stomachs  shall  be  filled  at  least  as  usual 
is  browbeaten  as  a  fellow  who  is  disturbing  national 
unity  and  interfering  with  the  supply  of  necessary 
things  to  his  brothers  in  the  trenches.  The  employer 
who  strikes  against  giving  his  men  an  honest  wage 
is  never  painted  in  half  so  dark  colours.  And  yet  it 
is  his  refusal  to  pay  a  fair  wage  that  has  again  and 
again  in  recent  months  held  up  the  work  of  the  war. 
Not  that  the  working  man  is  a  saint  who  never 
errs.  But  consider  his  position.  He  has  no  security 
in  his  work  beyond  the  week — frequently  not  beyond 
the  day.  He  lives  at  the  whim  of  the  employing 
classes.  He  lives  as  it  were  at  a  week's  notice.  He 
sees  his  children  growing  up  about  him,  and  he 
knows  that  an  accident  may  happen  to  him  any  day 
as  the  result  of  which  they  will  be  left  to  the  harsh 
charity  of  the  parish.  He  sees  them  growing  up  with 
the  gutter  for  their  only  garden,  and  he  speculates 
on  the  future  of  all  that  brightness  and  laughter 
and  its  insecure  tenure  even  of  the  gutter.  He  sees 
them  doomed  to  live  almost  for  certain  in  the  same 
flowerless  monotony  in  which  he  himself  has  always 
lived.  When  they  come  into  the  house,  he  is  like  a 
man  fighting  for  air.  They  are  all  fighting  for  air. 
They  are  overcrowded  ;  they  cannot  get  away  from 


ON   BEING   A   WORKINGMAN 

each  other;  they  get  on  each  other's  nerves.  Hence 
the  furies  of  mean  streets,  the  outbreaks  of  violence 
and  drunkenness.  He  attempts  to  bring  some  of  the 
beauty  of  the  world  into  his  home ;  he  has  a  caged 
bird,  a  cat,  a  pot  of  geraniums.  He  has  one  or  two 
meanly  showy  glass  ornaments  on  the  mantelpiece, 
such  as  he  might  win  on  a  Bank  holiday.  Not  that 
his  house  is  always  as  poor  as  this.  People  tell  you 
that  the  Yorkshire  miner  has  often  a  piano  in  his 
house;  they  tell  you  this  with  a  smile,  as  much  as  to 
say  that  a  working  man  has  really  no  right  to  have  a 
piano  in  his  house.  But  his  house  is  almost  always 
ugly.  He  is  dumped,  as  it  were,  into  a  brickfield ; 
he  has  no  inheritance  in  the  teeming  earth.  Where- 
evcv  he  goes  it  is  the  same.  He  is  herded  into 
cheap  galleries  in  the  theatres :  he  is  pushed  into 
separate  bars  in  the  public-houses.  He  is  a  person 
cut  off,  put  in  his  place.  He  is  an  outsider,  and  his 
children  are  outsiders,  in  a  world  of  motor-cars  and 
rich  dresses  and  gardens.  He  eats  what  the  more 
fastidious  classes  leave.  He  bets  on  horses  that  rich 
men  run.  He,  too,  is  caged-off,  like  his  bird.  .  .  . 
And  yet,  paradoxically  enough,  he  is  cheerful  rather 
than  bitter,  and  he  faces  death  for  his  country  in 
great  battles  with  music-hall  jokes  on  his  lips.  He 
enjoys  the  sight  of  kings  and  members  of  Parliament. 
He  enjoys  eating  and  drinking  and  making  love  and 
playing  with  his  children.  At  least  it  is  so  in  a 
thousand  thousand  cases.  He  has  reconciled  him- 
self to  the  little  circle  of  his  lot,  and  does  not  look 
for  pleasure  beyond  its  circumference.  .  .  . 

Luckily,  every  now  and  then  he  becomes  more 
inquisitive  and  adventurous,  and  the  circle  is  made 
wider.  He  is  then  attacked  on  all  sides  as  a  tres- 
passer, but  he  is  really  a  far  sounder  patriot  than 
those  who  by  withstanding  him  trespass  upon  the 
rights  of  the  coming  race. 

123 


THE  BUSINESS-MAN 

Those  who  are  happiest  over  the  change  in  the 
Government  are  happy  chiefly  for  two  reasons.  One 
is  that  they  have  got  new  lawyers  for  old.  The 
other  is  that  there  has  been  an  influx  of  business- 
men into  the  new  Ministry.  For  some  years  past 
there  has  been  a  growing  inclination  to  paint  the 
business-man  in  bright  colours.  He  seems  to  stand 
for  everything  that  is  practical  in  contrast  to  the 
mess,  muddle  and  make-believe  which  are  supposed 
to  be  the  attendant  circumstances  of  the  labours  of 
most  of  the  politicians. 

When  people  talk  of  the  business-man  in  politics, 
they  often  give  one  the  impression  that  they  regard 
all  business-men  as  being  of  one  type.  It  is  as 
though  they  believed  there  was  no  difference  between 
a  cotton-manufacturer  and  an  advertising-manager, 
or  between  an  advertising-manager  and  a  shop- 
keeper. They  have  an  idea,  apparently,  that  to 
make  money  in  any  branch  of  manufacture,  com- 
merce or  trade,  is  the  mark  of  an  all-round  practical 
man.  Kings  and  landowners  and  clergymen,  lawyers 
and  artists  and  men  of  science  are,  by  comparison, 
inhabitants  of  the  moon.  Now  it  can  hardly  be 
doubted  that  the  heads  of  great  businesses  like 
Lord  Rhondda  nnd  Sir  Alfred  Mond  may  perform 
immense  services  to  the  State — services  as  immense 
as  those  performed  by  landowners  and  lawyers.  But 
this  does  not  mean  that  the  ordinary  man  who  is 
called  a  business-man  has  the  right  to  regard  the 
genius  for  organization  possessed  by  a  Lord  Rhondda 
or  a  Sir  Alfred  Mond  as  a  specific  and  common 
faculty  of  the  business  world.  A  business-man 

124 


THE   BUSINESS-MAN 

either  may  be  a  great  producer  or  he  may  be — I  use 
the  word  in  no  disparaging  sense — a  great  "  tout." 
He  may  reveal  a  gift  for  increasing  the  productive 
capacity  of  his  firm  or  he  may  merely  reveal  a  gift 
for  increasing  orders  for  the  goods  of  his  firm.  In 
other  words,  his  talent  may  be  either  the  talent  of 
organization  or  the  talent  of  persuasion.  In  the 
latter  case  he  may  be  worth  a  small  fortune  to  a  firm 
of  manufactures  competing  with  other  firms,  but- he 
may  not  be  worth  as  much  as  an  ordinary  civil  ser- 
vant in  the  work  of  government.  Persuasion  is,  no 
doubt,  an  art  required  in  politics  and  the  civil 
service  as  well  as  in  business.  But  the  plausibility 
of  the  business-man  is,  I  believe,  crude  and  ineffec- 
tive compared  to  the  plausibility  of  lawyers  and 
University  graduates. 

As  for  those  leaders  of  industry  who  do  possess 
the  genius  for  organization,  even  they  have  seldom 
the  added  genius  for  statesmanship.  In  these  days, 
when  there  is  so  much  talk  of  national  organization, 
many  people  seem  to  regard  statesmanship  as  a 
problem  in  business  organization  and  nothing  more. 
This  is  a  mere  confusion  of  terms.  The  State  is  a 
household  as  well  as  a  business,  and,  just  as  a 
man  who  may  be  able  to  organize  his  business 
into  prosperity  may  be  able  to  organize  his 
household  into  nothing  but  gloom,  so  there  might 
conceivably  be  a  man  who  could  organize  a  business 
into  success  but  could  only  organize  a  nation  into 
disaster.  The  problems  of  statesmanship  call  for 
qualities  of  mind  and  (not  in  the  mawkish  sense) 
sympathy  such  as  the  ordinary  business-man  has,  in 
his  favourite  phrase,  "  no  use  for."  The  statesman 
is  not  permitted  to  shape  events  towards  the  single 
end  of  making  profit  for  himself  and  a  number  of 
shareholders  within  the  four  corners  of  the  law.  He 
is  required  to  be  as  disinterested  in  his  leadership  as 
the  business-man  is  bound  by  force  of  circumstance 

"5 


THE   BUSINESS-MAN 

to  be  "  interested."  He  may  be,  up  to  a  point — and 
quite  a  considerable  point — ambitious  and  fond  of 
his  salary,  but  his  service  of  the  State  does  not 
involve  profiteering  as  does  the  business  magnate's 
service  of  his  firm.  The  business  magnate  is  the 
head  of  a  nation  within  a  nation,  and  his  loyalty  is, 
though  not  necessarily  to  a  dangerous  extent,  divided. 
He  is  impatient  of  laws  which  restrict  his  liberty  to 
do  as  he  likes  in  his  sub-nation.  He  fought  as 
bitterly  as  the  Stuarts  in  order  to  establish  his  divine 
right  to  absolute  power.  The  nineteenth  century 
was  spent  in  limiting  the  powers  of  business-men  as 
the  seventeenth  was  spent  in  limiting  the  powers  of 
kings.  The  business-men  were  indignant  when  it 
was  suggested  that  the  workers  had  a  right  to 
organize  themselves  into  unions  in  order  to  obtain 
better  conditions  of  labour.  They  were  amazed 
when  they  were  denied  the  right  to  make  use  of  the 
services  of  as  many  children  as  could  be  tempted — 
it  was  usually  the  parents  rather  than  the  children 
who  were  tempted — into  their  factories  by  a  tiny 
wage.  Many  of  them  were  genuinely  shocked  when 
the  proper  sanitation  of  their  factories  was  declared 
to  be  a  matter  not  of  private  but  of  public  interest. 
Not  that  there  have  not  always  been  men  of  high 
ideals  in  business.  But  the  average  business  point 
of  view  has,  as  a  rule,  been  selfish  and  anti-social. 
Its  gospel  has  been  a  gospel  of  gain,  not  of  the 
increase  of  human  culture  and  human  happiness. 
There  is  probably  a  greater  proportion  of  business- 
men to-day  whose  ideals  rise  above  this  penny 
wisdom  than  there  has  ever  been  in  history,  but  the 
organization  of  gain  is  still  with  the  bulk  of  them 
the  golden  rule  of  life.  There  is  fortunately  only 
one  great  business  in  England  which  has  frankly 
taken  for  its  motto,  "  Our  trade  our  politics,"  but 
the  interference  of  the  business-man  in  politics  for 
private  ends  is  not  unknown  in  other  trades  also. 

126 


THE   BUSINESS-MAN 

And  the  experience  of  some  other  countries  in  this 
respect  has  been  much  worse.  It  may  be  retorted 
that  the  landowners  have  gone  in  for  the  politics  of 
their  property  quite  as  much  as  the  business-men, 
and  it  cannot  be  denied  that  every  class  is  inclined 
to  legislate  for  itself  under  the  pretence  that  to 
legislate  for  so  admirable  a  class  is  to  legislate  for 
the  nation.  That,  indeed,  is  one  of  the  temptations 
of  human  nature  which  is  well-nigh  irresistible.  If 
there  were  any  danger  of  the  public  making  a  fetish 
of  government  by  landowners,  one  would  at  once 
emphasise  the  dangers  involved  in  such  a  system. 
But,  as  it  is  government  by  business-men  which 
happens  just  now  to  be  in  the  air,  one  is  forced  to 
consider  the  qualifications  of  the  business-man  for 
such  work. 

The  business-man  of  the  better  sort  would,  I 
think,  be  among  the  first  to  admit  the  shortcomings 
of  business-men  as  a  class.  He  would  admit  that, 
outside  their  ordinary  sphere,  many  of  the  ablest 
of  them  are  extremely  ignorant  men — men  of 
grotesquely  narrow  vision.  The  land-owning  classes 
have  at  least  been  brought  up  in  the  tradition  that 
they  are  the  governing  classes,  and,  though  from  the 
point  of  view  of  a  Matthew  Arnold  they  may  be 
"  barbarians,"  they  at  least  breathe  to  some  extent 
the  atmosphere  of  the  large  world.  They  include  a 
considerable  proportion  of  men  the  interest  of  whose 
lives  is  problems  of  government,  problems  of  foreign 
affairs,  problems  of  this  or  that  sort  of  national 
service.  I  have  no  wish  to  see  government  by  the 
aristocratic  classes  revived  as  a  political  ideal,  but, 
badly  as  they  have  governed  the  world  in  the  past, 
it  is  only  fair  to  credit  them  with  having  produced 
a  great  number  of  men  of  what  is  called  public 
spirit.  This  tradition  of  public  spirit  has  been  strong 
especially  in  politics,  diplomacy,  armies  and  navies. 
Though  it  has  again  and  again  been  tempered 

127 


THE   BUSINESS-MAN 

by  the  desire  to  find  jobs  for  relations,  and  has  been 
accompanied  by  a  narrow  view  of  the  welfare  of  the 
State,  it  has  seldom  been  quite  extinguished  by  the 
spirit  of  profiteering.  The  record  of  the  business-men 
who  have  so  far  entered  politics  is  also  creditable 
enough,  but  there  is  no  doubt  that  the  obsession 
of  profiteering  is  stronger  in  business-men  as  a  class 
than  in  other  classes.  It  may  be  thought  that,  this 
being  so,  the  introduction  of  the  business-man  into 
government  will  mean  that  he  will  begin  to  make 
profits  for  the  State  instead  of  making  profits  for  a 
firm.  There  is  an  idea  abroad  that  the  efficiency  of 
business-houses  is  vastly  superior  to  the  efficiency  of 
Government  departments.  This  is  open  to  question. 
For  one  thing,  the  profit  aimed  at  in  public  depart- 
ments is  very  different  from  the  profit  of  dividends. 
It  is,  or  should  be,  the  profit  of  the  citizens,  not  the 
immediate  profits  of  pockets.  Public  bodies  are 
concerned  with  providing  citizens  with  good  schools 
and  roads  and  bridges,  rather  than  with  schools, 
roads  and  bridges  that,  in  the  business-man's  use  of 
the  word, "  pay."  Every  public  department  should, 
admittedly,  be  run  on  business-like  lines — but  not 
for  business  ends.  Hence  it  is  difficult  to  compare 
the  efficiency  of  a  public  department  with  that  of  a 
business  firm. 

No  outsider  gets  to  know,  for  instance,  of  the 
blunders  of  a  business  firm  until  it  is  threatened 
with  bankruptcy.  Yet  an  honest  business-man  will 
confess  that  he  is  as  liable  to  make  mistakes  as  any 
Prime  Minister  or  Foreign  Secretary  who  ever  lived. 
The  business-man  does  not  live  in  the  glare  of  news- 
paper criticism.  So  long  as  dividends  remain  high, 
he  is  immune  from  criticism.  No  statesman — not 
even  the  greatest  in  history — ever  enjoyed  such 
immunity.  His  very  successes  are  frequently  assailed 
by  his  enemies  as  failures.  He  is  pronounced  a  fool 
even  before  he  has  been  given  a  chance.  The 

128 


THE   BUSINESS-MAN 

business-man,  being  permitted  to  make  his  ordinary 
day-to-day  blunders  in  secret,  preserves  his  reputa- 
tion as  an  infallible  and  practical  man.  I  remember 
hearing  the  head  of  a  great  firm  saying,  at  a  time 
when  Lord  Salisbury  was  Prime  Minister,  that  if 
the  things  that  happened  in  his  office  were  sub- 
jected to  the  same  censorious  scrutiny  as  the  things 
that  happen  in  Cabinets  and  Government  depart- 
ments, the  general  public  would  conclude  that  his 
business  was  doomed  to  failure.  He  still  "  carries 
on,"  however. 

In  spite  of  all  that  can  be  said  in  criticism  of 
the  business-man,  his  presence  in  politics  should  be 
no  less  welcome  than  that  of  the  landlord,  the 
lawyer,  the  economist,  and  the  working-man.  One 
protests  only  against  his  canonization  as  a  national 
redeemer.  Political  ideals  and  business  ideals  are 
not  necessarily  identical,  but  for  business  methods 
there  is  always  need.  At  the  same  time,  it  is  the 
statesmen  rather  than  the  business-men  who  have 
made  such  a  success  (from  one  point  of  view)  of 
national  organization  in  Germany.  The  business- 
man has  helped,  but  the  inspiring  ideas  were  the 
ideas  of  politicians.  After  all,  the  business  of 
government  is  the  most  difficult  business  in  the 
world,  and  there  is  no  reason  to  think  that  an 
ordinary  business-man  would  succeed  in  it  any 
more  than  he  would  succeed  in  the  business  of 
painting  a  picture  or  writing  a  play. 


129  K 


HORRORS  OF  WAR 

At  regular  intervals  during  a  great  war  the 
question  arises  as  to  how  much  the  general  public 
should  be  told  about  its  horrors.  The  question  has 
been  raised  with  reference  to  the  cinematograph 
pictures  of  the  Battle  of  the  Somme.  One  may  put 
aside  at  the  outset  the  objection  that  the  cinemato- 
graph cheapens  great  events,  which  it  records,  as  it 
were,  by  accident  and  as  a  privileged  spy.  That  is 
not  the  point  at  issue.  The  argument  against 
exhibiting  to  the  public  the  horrors  of  war  is  usually 
based  on  the  feeling  that  to  dwell  upon  such  things 
is  to  lacerate  unnecessarily  the  hearts  of  those  whose 
near  relations  either  are  facing  death  or  have  already 
fallen  in  the  field.  And  there  is  a  selfish  as  well  as 
a  generous  instinct  which  urges  people  to  keep  silent 
about  the  horrors  of  war.  Those  who  stay  at  home, 
or  many  of  them,  like  to  wrap  themselves  up  in  a 
delusion  that  in  making  war  they  are  sending  forth 
men  upon  a  romance.  In  reading  about  the  war, 
they  hug  every  comic  anecdote  and  Academy  pret- 
tiness  to  their  breasts  as  though  these  things  restored 
their  confidence  in  the  world.  War,  they  seem  to  be 
telling  themselves,  would  not  be  so  bad  if  it  were  not 
for  German  atrocities.  I  imagine,  however,  the  pro- 
portion of  people  who  take  this  comfortable  view  is 
smaller,  immensely  smaller,  than  it  has  ever  been 
before.  It  is  difficult  to  believe  that  by  this  time 
there  is  a  single  person  in  the  civilized  world  who 
has  not  a  friend  or  two  fighting.  Every  day 
hundreds  of  new  houses  go  into  mourning.  One  can 
scarcely  find  a  street  in  which  some  house  has  not 
lost  its  heir  through  a  bursting  shell  or  a  sniper's 

130 


HORRORS    OF   WAR 

bullet.  One  looks  at  the  windows  of  the  poor,  and 
one  sees  an  increasing  number  of  the  bemedalled 
cards  which  a  few  months  ago  were  stuck  there  with 
such  pride  now  fitted  with  a  mourning  bow.  Thus, 
in  order  to  escape  the  realities  of  war,  one  would 
need  to  be  a  hermit,  or  at  least  to  live  in  the  cell  of 
one's  own  selfishness. 

Why,  then,  it  may  be  asked,  add  the  realization  of 
horrors  to  the  already  overwhelming  realization  of 
personal  loss  ?  And  obviously  one  would  not  go  to 
a  woman  who  had  lost  her  son  and  describe  to  her 
in  detail  his  wounds,  and  the  agonies  in  which  he 
died.  One  would  like  her  to  remain,  almost  at  any 
cost,  under  the  impression  that  he  was  one  of  the 
multitude  who  met  their  deaths  swiftly  and  merci- 
fully in  the  insane  ecstasy  of  a  charge.  Supposing 
he  died  horribly,  one  would  not  for  the  world  add 
his  pain  to  hers.  But  this  does  not  apply  to  the 
general  realization  of  horrors.  The  civilian  world  has 
no  right  to  benefit  by  the  sufferings  of  others  which 
it  is  not  willing  to  face  in  their  innumerable  tragedy. 
No  man  has  the  right,  by  the  proxy  of  a  roomful  of 
statesmen,  to  send  men  to  death  and  suffering  for 
his  ideals  without  knowing  exactly  what  he  is  doing. 
If  men  could  persuade  themselves  that  war  was 
simply  a  "  great  game,"  they  would  be  at  war  most 
of  the  time  they  could  afford  from  the  business  of 
earning  a  living.  It  is  a  growing  realization  of  the 
appallingness  of  war  that  has  made  civilized  nations 
more  and  more  come  to  regard  it  not  as  the  first 
resort,  but  as  the  last  resort  in  a  dispute  between 
rational  beings.  It  was  a  revival  of  the  war-cult  of 
earlier  ages  that  precipitated  Germany  into  the  pre- 
sent war.  The  German  people  as  a  whole,  I  imagine, 
could  have  been  led  still  more  enthusiastically  into 
peace  than  into  war.  But  their  military  leaders 
longed  to  use  their  beautiful  regiments  and  their 
beautiful  guns.  They  felt  the  passion  of  the  game — 


HORRORS   OF  WAR 

the  desire  to  live  the  "  lordliest  life  "  at  its  fullest 
and  most  thrilling.  The  fact  that  a  number  of 
powerful  men  regarded  war  as  something  other  than 
a  last  resort  has  turned  Europe  into  one  vast  house 
of  lunacy  and  slaughter.  And  yet  the  realistic  as 
opposed  to  the  romantic  view  of  war  was  common 
enough  in  recent  years  in  Germany  itself.  One 
remembers  a  book  called  The  Slaughterhouse,  which 
was  published  in  Germany  a  few  years  ago  with  the 
object  of  portraying  war  as  a  disgusting  and  frenzied 
butchery.  Books  of  this  kind,  indeed,  were  fairly 
common  in  all  countries.  There  was  a  Swede  who 
wrote  a  remarkable  volume  of  stories  called  Pride 
of  War,  in  which  he  drew  a  horrid  picture  of  events 
in  the  Italian  War  in  Tripoli.  One  of  his  stories 
pictured  a  bayonet-charge  in  all  its  blood-lust  and 
drunken  fury  and  hideous  messiness,  and  then 
suddenly  showed  us  the  soldiers  who  had  taken  part 
in  it  studying  with  appreciative  acceptance  the 
drawings  in  the  illustrated  papers  which  represented 
the  charge  as  a  romantic  rush  of  soldiers  in  spotless 
uniforms  to  the  glories  of  victory.  One  wonders 
how  many  soldiers  could  endure  a  Christmas- 
supplement  treatment  of  the  present  war.  So  great 
is  the  human  need  for  illusion  that,  no  doubt,  there 
are  scores  of  thousands.  But  there  are  hundreds 
of  thousands  whom  such  make-believe  caricatures 
would  inflame  with  indignation.  They  know,  and 
they  will  not  forget.  At  the  same  time,  many  of  the 
most  popular  books  about  the  war  are  so  reticent  as 
regards  horrors  that  the  civilian  is  in  danger  of 
feeling  almost  too  comfortable.  One  does  not  grudge 
him  his  comfort — frequently  one  shares  it — but 
obviously  the  more  he  can  be  horrified  into  giving 
his  attention  to  the  necessity  of  discovering  some 
saner  means  than  war  for  arranging  international 
disputes,  the  better.  The  world  must  not  be  allowed 
to  drift  into  the  slaughterhouse  again,  if  any  way  of 

132 


HORRORS    OF   WAR 

preventing  it  can  be  discovered.  Whether  war  will 
ever  absolutely  cease  on  this  planet,  no  one  knows. 
But  at  least  we  can  reduce  its  possibilities  to  a  mini- 
mum by  merely  willing  to  do  so,  and  by  directing 
the  intelligence  of  the  world  to  that  end.  Some 
authors  call  this  direction  of  will  and  intelligence  the 
"  cultivation  of  the  international  mind."  There 
could  be  no  better  education  of  this  mind  than  the 
realization  of  what  war  is  actually  like — how  it  far 
surpasses  in  horror  a  state  of  the  world  in  which  a 
Titanic  or  a  Lusitania  would  go  down  in  disaster  on 
every  day  in  the  year.  Some  people  may  be  alarmed 
lest  a  too  acute  realization  of  horrors  may  weaken 
the  will  to  go  on  with  a  necessary  war.  But  as  a 
matter  of  fact  this  is  not  the  effect  of  the  realization 
of  horrors  on  those  who  enter  upon  war  as  the  only 
method  available  to  them  of  defending  a  just  cause. 
There  will  always  be  something  in  the  human  race 
which  will  be  willing  to  face  death  and  the  intensest 
horrors  if  there  is  no  other  road  to  the  victory  of 
their  ideal.  The  realization  of  horrors  by  the  way 
will  not  enfeeble  the  spirit  of  men  advancing  towards 
great  ends.  Those  ends  must  be  reached — so  they 
will  hold — whatever  the  suffering.  But  is  there  no 
other  road  ? 

Hitherto,  those  who  have  dwelt  upon  the  horrors 
of  war  have  often  been  ready  to  adopt  a  policy  of 
peace  at  any  price.  There  is  something  ignoble  in 
a  nature  which  avoids  war  merely  in  order  to  escape 
the  horrors  of  war.  St.  George  might  as  honourably 
have  run  away  from  the  dragon  through  hatred  of 
its  hideousness.  What  is  needed  is  not  a  world  in 
which  men  will  run  away  from  dragons,  but  a  world 
in  which  men  will  see  that  dragons  are  not  the 
indispensable  arbiters  in  every  human  dispute.  We 
need  the  will  to  exterminate  the  dragon,  not  to  bolt 
from  him.  Sydney  Smith,  who  was  one  of  the  most 
outspoken  haters  of  war  in  nineteenth-century 

133 


HORRORS   OF  WAR 

England,  holds  our  sympathy  so  long  as  he  protests 
against  the  appeal  to  this  bloody  judge  in  human 
affairs,  when  a  more  rational  judge  might  be  had  ; 
but  he  is  in  conflict  with  much  that  is  fine  in  human 
nature  when  he  denounces  the  chivalrous  side  of  war 
with  the  criminal.  There  was  nothing  to  appeal  to 
the  imagination  of  ardent  men  when  in  1823  he 
wrote  tremblingly  of  the  prospect  that  England 
would  enter  upon  a  war  for  the  sake  of  the  liberties 
of  Spain.  "  I  am  afraid,"  he  wrote : — 

"  I  am  afraid  we  shall  go  to  war;  I  am  sorry  for 
it.  I  see  every  day  in  the  world  a  thousand  acts 
of  oppression  which  I  should  like  to  resent,  but  I 
cannot  afford  to  play  the  Quixote.  Why  are  the 
English  to  be  the  sole  vindicators  of  the  human 
race  ? " 

And  he  wrote  again  on  the  same  subject : — 

"  For  God's  sake,  do  not  drag  me  into  another 
war !  I  am  worn  down,  and  worn  out,  with 
crusading  and  defending  Europe,  and  protecting 
mankind;  I  must  think  a  little  of  myself.  I  am 
sorry  for  the  Spaniards — I  am  sorry  for  the  Greeks 
— I  deplore  the  fate  of  the  Jews;  the  people  of  the 
Sandwich  Islands  are  groaning  under  the  most 
detestable  tyranny ;  Bagdad  is  oppressed — I  do 
not  like  the  present  state  of  the  Delta — Thibet  is 
not  comfortable.  Am  I  to  fight  for  all  these  people  ? 
The  world  is  bursting  with  sin  and  sorrow.  Am  I 
to  be  champion  of  the  Decalogue,  and  to  be  eter- 
nally raising  fleets  and  armies  to  make  all  men 
good  and  happy  ?  We  have  just  done  saving 
Europe,  and  I  am  afraid  the  consequence  will  be, 
that  we  shall  cut  each  other's  throats." 

All  this  seems  to  be  the  most  unaspiring  of  common 

134 


HORRORS   OF   WAR 

sense  to  the  Quixote  that  survives  in  every  man's 
bosom.  It  is  simply  a  bourgeois  cry  for  comfortable 
things.  One  knows  how  humane  a  man  Sydney 
Smith  in  fact  was,  but  he  has  not  expressed  his  anti- 
militarism  here  as  a  fine  humane  ideal.  He  missed 
all  the  heroic  side  of  war  when  he  accused  mankind 
of  "  hailing  official  murderers,  in  scarlet,  gold  and 
cocks'  feathers,  as  the  greatest  and  most  glorious 
of  human  creatures."  He  who  cannot  praise  the 
heroism  of  war  has  no  right  to  denounce  the  horrors 
of  war.  Mr.  Masefield's  picture  of  the  horrors  of 
war  in  his  new  book,  Gallipoli,  is  all  the  more  con- 
vincing because  of  the  imaginative  enthusiasm  with 
which  he  reveals  the  hero  in  man  triumphing  amid 
the  horrors.  His  soldier  is  a  heroic  challenger  of  all 
the  fiends  as  well  as  a  tragic  figure  who  sees  the 
comrades  at  his  side 

"blown  to  pieces  .  .  .  or  dismembered,  or  drowned, 
or  driven  mad,  or  stalked,  or  sniped  by  some  unseen 
stalker,  or  bombed  in  the  dark  sap  with  a  handful 
of  dynamite  in  a  beef-tin,  till  their  blood  is  caked 
upon  his  clothes  and  thick  upon  his  face," 

and  who  himself  in  a  few  minutes  more  may  be 

"blasted  dead,  or  lying  bleeding  in  the  scrub,  with 
perhaps  his  face  gone  and  a  leg  and  an  arm  broken, 
unable  to  move  but  still  alive,  unable  to  drive  away 
the  flies  or  screen  the  ever-dropping  rain,  in  a  place 
where  none  will  find  him,  or  be  able  to  help  him  ; 
in  a  place  where  he  will  die  and  rot  and  shrivel, 
till  nothing  is  left  of  him  but  a  few  rags  and  a  few 
remnants  and  a  little  identification  disc  flapping  on 
his  bones  in  the  wind." 

Soldiers  have  to  learn  to  see  a  light  side  to  this 
universal  chaos  of  calamities.  But  civilians  ought 

135 


HORRORS  OF  WAR 

not  to  be  permitted  to  do  so.  There  is  a  scene  in  a 
revue  now  running  in  a  London  music-hall  in  which 
huge  bombs  fall  comically  in  German  trenches.  It 
is  a  legitimate  amusement  for  soldiers,  but  hardly — 
one  feels — for  those  who  stay  at  home.  Those  who 
stay  at  home  are  constantly  in  danger  of  beginning 
to  take  rhings  for  granted;  and  it  is  too  easy  to  allow 
oneself  to  take  other  people's  sufferings  for  granted. 
Catholics  feel  this  to  such  a  degree  that  they  make 
statues  and  pictures  of  Christ,  which  reveal  the 
wounds  of  the  crucifixion,  and  show  the  bleeding 
heart  in  his  breast.  These  statues  offend  the  non- 
Catholic  as  morbid  and  repulsive  things,  but  one 
sees  clearly  enough  the  object  of  religious  men  and 
women  in  dwelling  upon  such  horrors.  It  is  simply 
to  compel  themselves  to  realize  the  sufferings  which 
were  endured,  according  to  their  belief,  as  a  necessary 
means  to  their  salvation.  And  we,  too,  must  not 
allow  ourselves  to  forget  those  nearer  sufferings.  If 
we  forget  them,  then  the  war  becomes  but  a  Bacchic 
interlude  in  a  complacent  and  drifting  world.  It 
will  be  only  a  meaningless  dingdong  of  massacre 
instead  of  the  introduction,  as  it  may  be  made,  to  a 
new  Europe.  And  our  grandchildren  will  say  that 
it  had  no  more  moral  significance  than  old  Kaspar 
could  discover  in  the  Battle  of  Blenheim.  Popular 
historians,  no  doubt,  will  hurrah  a  great  deal  and 
heap  up  rhetorical  mountains  of  words  about  the 
"  deeds  that  saved  the  Empire,"  but  the  war  will 
have  failed  to  contribute  anything  to  the  service  of 
mankind. 


136 


T.  M.   KETTLE 

Tom  Kettle  has  been  killed  in  Flanders — Tom 
Kettle,  the  most  brilliant  Irishman  of  his  generation, 
the  generation  after  Mr.  Yeats  and  A.  E.  He  was 
brilliant  in  conversation,  brilliant  in  public  speech, 
brilliant  in  the  written  phrase.  To  be  in  his  com- 
pany was  to  be  in  the  company  of  the  most  melan- 
choly man  of  his  years  in  Ireland,  and  the  wittiest. 
He  was  by  nature  of  the  school  of  the  pessimists. 
He  found  a  kind  of  intellectual  mirror  in  Anatole 
France.  But  he  could  not  achieve  consolation,  like 
Anatole  France,  through  wit  and  Rabelaisianism. 
He  was  too  tragical-hearted  for  that.  One  thought 
of  him  as  a  young  philosopher  in  a  sad  cloak.  I 
once  saw  a  pen-and-ink  drawing  of  James  Clarence 
Mangan  that  had  strange  resemblances  to  Kettle. 
He  seemed  in  the  same  way  to  go  about  visibly 
accompanied  by  doom.  His  conversation  at  times 
was  like  a  comment  on  doom,  scornful,  cheerful, 
challenging,  paradoxical — emotion  turned  back  from 
the  abyss  with  an  epigram. 

Those  who  know  nothing  of  Ireland  will  regard  it 
as  a  paradox  that  one  of  the  first  public  acts  of 
Kettle's  life  was  to  organize  a  body  of  students  to 
capture  the  Royal  University  organ  in  Dublin,  and 
so  prevent  "  God  Save  the  King  "  from  being  played 
at  the  conferring  of  degrees,  while  his  last  act  has 
been  to  die  for  the  liberties  of  Europe  in  the  uniform 
of  the  British  Army.  But  to  Kettle  himself  there 
was  no  contradiction  in  this.  "  God  Save  the  King  " 
has  been  sung  in  Ireland  fora  century,  not  as  a  song 
of  freedom,  but  as  a  hymn  of  hate  against  liberty. 

137 


T.  M.  KETTLE: 

Kettle  saw  in  the  German  outrage  on  Belgium 
simply  a  new  geographication  of  the  curse  of  Crom- 
well. I  remember  the  mood  in  which  he  came  back 
from  Belgium,  where  the  outbreak  of  war  had  found 
him  engaged  in  buying  rifles  for  the  National  Volun- 
teers. He  was  horrified  by  the  spectacle  of  a  bully 
let  loose  on  a  little  nation.  He  was  horrified,  too, 
by  the  philosophic  lie  at  the  back  of  all  this  greed 
of  territory  and  power.  He  was  horrified  at  seeing 
the  Europe  he  loved  going  down  into  brawling  and 
bloody  ruin.  Not  least — and  no  one  can  understand 
contemporary  Ireland  who  does  not  realize  this — 
was  he  horrified  by  the  thought  that,  if  Germany 
won,  Belgium  would  become  what  he  had  mourned 
in  Ireland,  a  nation  in  chains. 

That  was  the  mood  in  which  he  offered  his 
services  to  the  War  Office.  He  always  dreamed  of 
an  Ireland  whose  life  would  be  identified  with  the 
life  of  Europe.  He  believed  that  in  fighting  for  the 
soul  of  Europe  he  was  fighting  for  the  soul  of  Ireland. 
He  hated  any  nationalism  which  had  not  interna- 
tionalism for  its  complement.  In  his  most  character- 
istic book,  "  The  Day's  Burden  " — the  very  title  of 
the  book  seems  like  a  piece  of  autobiography — he 
expressed  his  longing  for  an  Irish  Goethe  who  would 
teach  Ireland  "  that  while  a  strong  people  has  its 
own  self  for  centre,  it  has  the  universe  for  circum- 
ference." He  believed  in  Nationalism  because  "  in 
gaining  her  own  soul,  Ireland  will  gain  the  whole 
world."  The  last  time  I  saw  him — it  was  in  Dublin 
ast  July — he  was  philosophizing  after  his  manner  on 
the  "  coloured  rags  "  for  which  men  lay  the  world 
waste.  He  was  a  Nationalist,  not  through  love  of  a 
flag,  but  through  love  of  freedom.  He  would  have 
pulled  down  all  barriers  against  human  sympathies. 
He  despised  Jingoism  and  narrowness  on  all  sides. 
One  remembers  his  contemptuous  summary  of  Mr. 
Kipling's  Ulster  poem  as  : 

138 


T.  M.   KETTLE 

"  A  bucketful  of  Boyne 
To  put  the  sunrise  out." 

His  attitude  with  regard  to  the  Dublin  insur- 
rection in  Easter  Week  was  typical  of  the  conflict 
of  his  sympathies,  as  of  the  sympathies  of  many  Irish 
soldiers  during  the  last  few  months.  He  was  aghast 
at  the  insurrection  :  he  fought  in  the  streets  of 
Dublin  to  suppress  it.  But  he  was  equally  aghast 
at  the  manner  of  its  suppression  and  the  execution 
of  the  leaders  of  the  revolt.  Events  seemed  to  have 
overwhelmed  him  with  despair.  The  murder  of 
Sheehy-Skeffington,  whose  brother-in-law  he  was, 
had  especially  sunk  into  his  soul  as  a  monstrous 
and  incredible  cruelty.  He  had  often  differed  from 
Skeffington,  who  always  marched  straight  for  one 
goal,  while  he  himself,  being  less  of  a  man  of  action 
by  temperament,  meditated  upon  goals  rather  than 
marched  to  them  ;  but  he  loved  him  for  the  uncom- 
promising and  radically  gentle  idealist  he  was.  He 
seemed,  as  he  talked,  like  the  spirit  of  pity  incarnate 
— some  shadow  born  out  of  the  imagination  of 
Turgenev  or  Thomas  Hardy.  He  spoke  at  one 
moment  with  indignation  and  mockery  of  those 
whom  he  had  fought  as  enemies,  and  the  next  with  a 
curious  envious  reverence  of  men  who  had  died  with 
so  unflinching  a  heroism.  He  was  bitter  that  they 
had  murdered  his  dream  of  an  Ireland  peopled,  not 
only  by  good  Irishmen,  but  by  good  Europeans  ; 
but  of  one  of  the  insurgent  leaders,  whom  we  both 
knew  and  loved,  he  said  :  "  I  would  gladly  have  given 
my  life  for  him." 

Some  day,  perhaps,  a  great  artist  will  arise  who 
will  be  able  to  portray  the  passions  and  sufferings 
of  Ireland  in  the  year  1916.  If  he  does  he  will  find 
in  Kettle  a  representative  figure — an  exaggeratedly 
representative  figure — of  much  of  the  suffering 
of  the  time.  And  how  attractive  and  wayward 

139 


T.   M.   KETTLE 

and  crusading  a  figure,  too  !  Wit,  metaphysi- 
cian, economist,  politician,  professor,  Bohemian,  he 
was,  indeed,  as  he  called  Anatole  France,  a  soldier 
of  "  the  lost  cause  of  intellect."  It  was  to  the 
standard  of  the  intellect  in  a  gloomy  world  that  he 
always  gaily  rallied.  His  darting  phrases  made 
straight  for  the  heart  of  unintelligence — sometimes, 
also,  no  doubt,  for  the  heart  of  intelligence.  The 
truth  is,  he  never  could  resist  a  good  phrase.  When 
he  sat  in  Parliament,  he  summed  up  the  frailty  of 
Mr.  Balfour  in  yielding  to  the  Tariff  Reformers  in 
the  sentence  :  "  They  have  nailed  their  leader  to 
the  mast."  And  his  conversation  was  a  procession 
of  such  things  uttered  from  a  large  melancholy 
mouth  with  no  more  than  the  flutter  of  a  smile. 
And  now  he  is  dead,  a  soldier  in  the  lost  cause  of 
the  intellect  in  national  and  international  affairs. 
Perhaps,  as  a  result  of  his  death,  his  ideas  will  begin 
to  live — the  root  ideas,  I  mean,  apart  from  their 
accidental  application — his  ideas,  especially,  of  a 
new  Ireland  in  a  new  Europe,  of  peace  and  humanity 
and  honour. 

But  meanwhile  consider  the  tragedy  of  it  all. 
Sheehy-Skeffington  is  shot  by  British  soldiers  at 
the  command  of  a  mad  officer  in  April :  Tom  Kettle 
dies  at  the  hands  of  German  soldiers  five  months 
later.  There  you  have  more  than  a  personal  tragedy. 
You  have  a  last  symbolical  act  in  the  age-long  tragedy 
of  Ireland. 


140 


SHEEHY-SKEFFINGTON 

Sheehy-Skeffington's  death  at  the  hands  of  soldiers 
in  the  Dublin  rising  stirs  the  imagination  all  the 
more  profoundly  because  not  merely  was  he  innocent 
of  any  crime,  but  he  seemed  to  be  almost  the  only 
person  left  in  Ireland  who  was  an  irreconcilable 
believer  in  peace.  Ireland  has  in  the  last  year  or 
two  been  occupied  by  five  bodies  of  armed  men — 
the  British  Army,  the  National  Volunteers,  the  Irish 
Volunteers,  the  Ulster  Volunteers,  and  the  Irish 
Citizen  Army.  Skeffington  stood  aloof  from  them 
all.  He  believed  furiously  in  the  ideals  of  some  of 
them,  and  disbelieved  furiously  in  the  ideals  of  others. 
But  he  objected  equally  to  the  methods  of  all. 
Some  months  before  his  death  he  moved  at  a  meet- 
ing of  extreme  Nationalists  a  resolution  calling  for 
an  immediate  end  to  the  European  war.  But  the 
meeting  threw  out  his  resolution  and  passed  another 
instead,  to  the  effect  that  the  war  must  go  on  till 
the  liberty  of  Ireland  was  assured.  Skeffington  was 
constantly  in  a  minority  of  one  even  in  the  house  of 
his  friends. 

I  first  heard  of  Sheehy-Skeffington,  I  think,  when 
he  was  running  a  weekly  called  The  National  Democrat. 
If  I  remember  right,  it  was  edited  by  him  and 
Fred  Ryan  (who  afterwards  went  to  Cairo  to 
work  on  an  Egyptian  Nationalist  paper,  and  was 
editing  Egypt  in  London  when  he  died  in  1913). 
Skeffington  and  Ryan  were  exceptional  figures  in 
the  ranks  of  Irish  Nationalism.  They  were  Socialists, 
Suffragists,  anti-clericals,  and  many  other  things  that 
the  average  Nationalist  is  not.  They  had  something 
of  the  Frenchman's  eager  scepticism  and  desire  to  see 

141 


SHEEHY-SKEFFINGTON 

things  in  the  light  of  reason.  Fred  Ryan's  heroes 
lay  among  the  French  philosophers  of  the  eighteenth 
century.  Skeffington's  inspiring  hero  was  nearer 
home.  It  was  Michael  Davitt.  I  do  not  mean  that 
he  was  a  blind  follower  of  Davitt's.  Davitt  had 
been  a  Fenian,  and  Skeffington  was  not  that.  But 
Davitt  may  be  said  to  have  been  the  first  democrat 
in  Parnellite  Ireland.  He  believed  in  the  cause  of  the 
working  classes,  the  nationalization  of  the  land,  and 
in  lay  control  of  the  schools.  Skeffington's  politics 
lay  beyond  this,  but  this  was  their  foundation.  His 
enthusiasm  resulted  in  his  writing  a  polemical  life 
of  Davitt,  in  which  he  accepted  and  emphasized 
Davitt's  hostile  characterization  of  Parnell. 

Skeffington  did  not  in  those  days  belong  to  the 
extreme  section  of  the  Nationalists.  He  was  a 
member  of  the  United  Irish  League — a  most  unwel- 
come member  at  times,  when  he  filled  the  part  of 
the  Socratic  gadfly.  Orthodox  members  of  all 
leagues  have  a  way  of  passing  resolutions  and  then 
going  asleep  for  the  rest  of  the  year.  Skeffington's 
resolutions  all  had  the  object  of  waking  people  up. 
He  did  not  believe  in  tact  or  compromise.  He 
believed  in  fighting  for  principles.  And  he  was 
always  doing  it.  Politicians,  whose  business  is  with 
programmes  rather  than  with  principles,  were 
impatient  of  so  unrestrained  an  interloper.  As  a 
result,  Skeffington  was  constantly  at  odds  with  the 
majority.  He  became  a  sort  of  legend  as  an  inter- 
rupter of  the  somnolent.  One  thought  of  his  red 
beard  as  a  storm-signal,  and  of  his  long  knicker- 
bockers as  an  assertion  of  principle  at  all  times  and 
in  all  places.  Every  orthodoxy  in  Dublin  regarded 
him  as  an  eccentric.  He  was  the  leader  of  an  even 
smaller  party  than  Mr.  Tim  Healy.  No  jeers  or 
sneers,  however,  could  silence  him.  He  seemed  to 
thrive  on  them.  He  was  as  irrepressible  as  the  pre- 
war Gustave  HervS  or  the  later  Liebknecht.  He 

142 


SHEEHY-SKEFFINGTON 

was  Daniel  in  the  lion's  den,  enjoying  the  humours 
of  his  position.  Ultimately,  even  his  enemies  had 
to  admit  that,  eccentric  though  he  might  seem,  he 
was  of  courage  unexcelled.  He  never  refused  a 
fight. 

What  astonished  many  people  was  the  splendid 
ease  with  which  he  laid  aside  the  bitterness  of  con- 
troversy in  his  private  relations.  Reading  his  articles 
one  would  sometimes  think  of  him  as  a  controver- 
sialist, violent,  rasping,  unsympathetic.  When  one 
met  him,  however,  one  discovered  him  to  be  above 
all  things  cheerful,  tolerant  and  sociable.  He  would 
joke  about  his  misadventures  and  the  derisive  abuse 
which  was  occasionally  heaped  upon  him.  He  could 
converse  without  malice  with  his  worst  enemy.  He 
enjoyed  scoring  points  in  his  rather  high  voice  and 
his  Ulsterish  accent;  but  he  was  incessantly  amiable 
as  he  did  so.  His  voice  might  be  sharp,  but  his 
quick  eyes  were  gay  and  unexpectedly  gentle.  He 
enjoyed  argument,  one  felt,  like  a  game  of  reason. 
He  enjoyed  hearing  the  other  side  as  well  as  fighting 
for  his  own.  His  ability  to  appreciate  other  people's 
points-of-view  was  shown  in  a  series  of  dialogues 
which  he  wrote  about  ten  years  ago  and  published 
week  by  week  in  Mr.  W.  P.  Ryan's  paper,  The  Irish 
Peasant.  He  called  his  series  "  Dialogues  of  the 
Day,"  and  discussed  in  them  topics  of  the  hour  from 
the  points-of-view  of  United  Irish  Leaguers,  Sinn 
Feiners,  Ulstermen,  priests,  business  men  and  other 
types  of  Irishmen.  They  were  both  amusing  and 
impartial.  Skeffington,  indeed,  was  a  very  clever  as 
well  as  a  very  honest  journalist. 

Of  late  years  he  was  associated  chiefly  with  the 
labour  movement,  the  suffrage  movement  and  the 
anti-war  movement.  He  worked  hard  for  justice  to 
the  poor  during  the  great  Larkin  strikes  which  pre- 
ceded the  war.  He  fought  equally  hard  in  the  mili- 
tant Suffragist  movement,  pacifist  though  he  was, 

143 


SHEEHY-SKEFFINGTON 

but  it  was  obviously  the  self-sacrifice  rather  than  the 
violence  of  the  movement  which  attracted  him. 

One  might  have  expected  that  so  militant  a  per- 
sonality would  throw  himself  with  enthusiasm  into 
the  National  Volunteer  movement,  which  grew  up 
in  Ireland  as  a  counterblast  to  Sir  Edward  Carson. 
And  there  is  no  doubt  that  Skeffington  was  strongly 
attracted  to  the  Volunteers.  He  loved  them  for  their 
honesty,  their  self-sacrifice,  their  idealism.  But  his 
belief  that  the  problems  of  the  world  should  be 
settled,  not  by  bloodshed,  but  by  reason,  prevented 
him  from  going  all  the  way  with  them,  and  in  The 
Irish  Citizen  he  published  a  protest  against  the 
theory  of  raising  an  Irish  Nationalist  army,  in  the 
form  of  an  "  open  letter "  to  his  friend  Thomas 
MacDonagh,  afterwards  executed  for  his  share  in  the 
rising.  In  the  course  of  this  open  letter,  Skeffington 
wrote : — 

"You  will  say  Ireland  is  too  small,  too  poor, 
ever  to  be  a  militarist  nation  in  the  European 
sense.  True,  Ireland's  militarism  can  never  be  on 
so  grand  a  scale  as  that  of  Germany  or  England ; 
but  it  may  be  equally  fatal  to  the  best  interests  of 
Ireland.  European  militarism  has  drenched 
Europe  in  blood;  Irish  militarism  may  only 
crimson  the  fields  of  Ireland.  For  us  that  would 
be  disaster  enough." 

He  then  went  on  to  suggest,  as  an  alternative  to 
the  preparation  of  an  armed  body  of  Nationalists, 

an  organization  of  people  prepared  to  dare  all 
things  for  their  object,  prepared  to  suffer  and  to 
die  rather  than  abandon  one  jot  of  their  principles, 
but  an  organization  that  will  not  lay  it  down  as 
its  fundamental  principle.  '  We  will  prepare  to 
kill  our  fellow  men.'  " 

144 


SHEEHY-SKEFFINGTON 

And  now  the  poet  of  the  sword  and  the  journalist 
of  peace,  both  of  them  men  of  genial  light-hearted- 
ness,  lie  in  an  equal  grave  with  bullet-wounds  in 
their  breasts. 

Skeffington's  pacifism  was  double-edged.  It  was 
the  pacifism  of  the  Nationalist  and  the  pacifism  of  the 
Internationalist.  If  he  had  been  a  German  or  an 
Englishman  he  would,  no  doubt,  have  been  a  con- 
scientious objector.  Being  an  Irishman,  who  took 
the  view  that  this  is  not  Ireland's  war,  he  was  also 
an  anti-recruiting  propagandist.  He  believed  that 
Ireland  as  a  nation  has  the  same  right  to  remain 
neutral  in  this  war  as  Denmark  has ;  and  he  argued 
his  case  on  comparable  grounds  to  those  on  which 
M.  Henri  Bourassa,  the  Canadian  Nationalist, 
claimed  that  Canada  ought  to  remain  neutral.  In 
the  first  half  of  1915  he  got  into  trouble  on  account 
of  his  anti-recruiting  speeches,  and  was  sent  to  prison. 
He  refused  to  take  food,  however,  and  as  soon  as 
he  was  exhausted  by  a  hunger-strike  the  authorities 
let  him  go.  Unfortunately  the  hunger-strike  affected 
his  heart,  and  he  was  ill  for  some  time  after  his 
release.  He  afterwards  went  to  America,  where  he 
explained  that  he  and  those  who  agreed  with  him 
were  not  pro-German  but  merely  desired  that  Ireland 
should  remain  neutral  in  the  war.  The  pro- 
Germans  in  America  were  indignant  at  his  sugges- 
tion that  pro-Germanism  was  a  rarity  in  Ireland. 

Skeffington,  however,  was  intellectually  a  pacifist 
as  well  as  a  neutralist.  His  interests  were  social- 
democratic  and  internationalist.  He  would  certainly 
have  stood  by  the  side  of  Liebknecht  if  he  had  been 
a  German.  He  hated  Imperialist  wars  as  denials 
of  the  brotherhood  of  man. 

In  writing  of  Sheehy-Skefnngton  I  am  naturally 
concerned  with  expounding  his  ideas  (in  so  far  as  I 
understand  them)  and  not  my  own.  I  differed  from 
him  on  the  subject  of  the  present  war  as  on  many 

145  L 


SHEEHY-SKEFFINGTON 

other  subjects.  But  however  much  one  differed 
from  him,  one  could  still  watch  his  fighting  and 
heretical  progress  with  immense  admiration  for  his 
devotion  and  courage.  He  was  a  "  bonnie  fighter." 
He  was  besides,  I  think,  the  honestest  man  in  Ireland. 
How  generous  was  the  spirit  in  which,  in  those  days 
of  insurrection,  the  police  having  been  withdrawn 
from  the  streets  of  Dublin,  he  set  out  for  the  danger- 
zone  to  remind  the  poor  and  the  starved  of  their 
duties  of  citizenship  !  That  lonely  mission  to  put 
down  looting  in  the  streets  was  a  worthy  last  act  in 
a  life  devoted  to  noble  causes.  "  You  will  find  out 
your  mistake  afterwards,"  he  said  to  the  soldiers 
who  were  about  to  shoot  him  ;  and  having  said  so 
he  died  smiling.  Ireland,  and  the  world,  could  ill 
afford  to  lose  so  good  a  citizen — so  daring,  so 
energetic,  so  challenging,  so  individual.  Probably 
he  would  never  have  been  the  leader  of  a  large  party 
in  Irish  politics  however  long  he  had  lived.  But  as 
a  guerilla  critic  in  advance  of  his  age,  he  would  have 
been  of  infinite  service  in  a  self-governing  Ireland. 
He  was  less  a  dreamer  than  a  propagandist.  But 
every  humanitarian  cause  in  Ireland,  while  gaining 
an  example,  has  lost  a  heroic  champion  through  his 
death. 


146 


ON   NATIONALISM   AND 
NATIONALITY 

The  idea  of  Nationalism  is  generally  misunder- 
stood. The  Imperialists  do  not  try  to  understand 
it ;  they  call  it  sedition  and  hand  it  over  to  the 
police.  Unfortunately,  a  great  number  of  good 
democrats — Socialists  and  humanitarians  especially 
— are  also  hostile  to  the  national  idea.  They  regard 
it  as  an  aggressive  denial  of  the  brotherhood  of  man, 
a  shrill  and  immoral  exaggeration  of  individualism. 
Perhaps  this  is  because  Nationalism  means  so  many 
different  things  in  different  countries.  In  Russia, 
for  instance,  Nationalism  has  come  (or  had,  in  the 
Tsar's  time)  to  mean  Chauvinism — the  very  reverse 
of  the  real  meaning  of  the  word.  Nationalists  of 
the  Russian  sort  are  essentially  Imperialists  or 
Supernationalists — perverters  of  the  decent  things 
in  patriotism.  You  may  always  take  it  that  a 
Nationalist  who  shows  signs  of  Chauvinism  is  an 
Imperialist  in  the  making.  By  his  Chauvinism  he 
has  already  betrayed  the  central  principle  of 
Nationalism,  which  is  to  respect  the  personality  of 
every  other  nation  as  one  wishes  the  personality  of 
one's  own  nation  to  be  respected.  Therefore,,  when 
one  speaks  of  Nationalism  as  a  political  theory  and 
not  as  a  catchword  of  party  politics,  one  j.s  thinking 
of  Nationalism  like  Mazzini's — the.  Nationalism 
which  urges  countries  like  Finland, 'Persia,  India,, 
Poland,  Egypt,  Georgia,  and  Ireland  to  strive,  not 
for  mastery  over  other  nations,  but  for  an  e^ual 
place  in  an  international  brotherhood  of  peoples. 

147 


ON  NATIONALISM  AND  NATIONALITY 

Nationalism,  then,  is  a  theory  concerning  the 
personality  of  nations.  Nationality,  said  Mazzini, 
is  the  individuality  of  peoples,  and  Nationalism  is 
simply  an  assertion  of  the  belief  that  the  individuality 
of  a  people  is  as  holy  and  real  and  desirable  a  thing 
as  the  individuality  of  a  man  or  a  woman.  It  holds 
up  the  ideal  of  a  many-coloured  cosmopolitanism  of 
free  nations  as  opposed  to  a  colourless  and  mech- 
anical cosmopolitanism  of  big  Powers  and  subject 
races.  The  most  cosmopolitan  of  creeds,  it  is 
eternally  opposed  to  the  pseudo-cosmopolitanism 
which  means  denationalisation — the  sort  of  cosmop- 
olitanism which  is  referred  to  in  a  famous  passage  in 
"  Rudin,"  where  Turgenev,  speaking  through  one  of 
his  characters,  says :  "  Cosmopolitanism  is  all 
twaddle,  the  cosmopolitan  is  a  nonentity — worse 
than  a  nonentity :  without  nationality  is  no  art,  nor 
truth,  nor  life,  nor  anything.  You  cannot  even  have 
an  ideal  face  without  individual  expression :  only  a 
vulgar  face  can  be  devoid  of  it.''  In  the  eyes  of 
Nationalists,  Imperialism  makes  for  the  vulgariza- 
tion, the  spiritual  lifelessness,  of  the  world. 
Nationalism,  on  the  other  hand,  aims  at  opening  up 
a  way  by  which  the  nations  may  have  life,  and  have 
it  more  abundantly. 

It  might  be  possible  to  admit  a  good  deal  of  this 
without  understanding  in  all  cases  how  the  Nation- 
alist theory  is  to  be  put  into  practice.  Some  people 
seem  to  find  it  difficult  to  tell  a  nation  when  they 
see  one.  They  do  not  know  whether  Georgia  is  a 
nation  or  only  part  of  Russia,  whether  Ireland  is  a 
nation  or  only  a  province  of  what  the  lawyers  call 
the  United  Kingdom  of  Great  Britain  and  Ireland. 
If  Ireland  is  a  nation,  they  say,  for  example,  then 
why  not  Yorkshire  ?  Is  the  individuality  of  Ireland 
any  more  marked  than  the  individuality  of  Yorkshire  ? 
These  are  fair  questions.  The  answer  to  them  is 
that  Yorkshire  will  be  a  nation  on  the  same  day  on 

148 


ON  NATIONALISM  AND  NATIONALITY 

which  she  feels  that  she  is  one,  and  on  which  her 
consciousness  becomes  so  separate  from  the  national 
consciousness  of  England  that  she  will  desire  to 
express  it  in  a  distinct  literature,  language,  social 
and  political  life,  and  all  the  rest  of  it.  Ireland 
simply  has  a  different  national  consciousness  from 
England.  Her  very  dissensions  which  she  herself 
finds  so  interesting  only  bore  England.  Even  the 
dullest  person  can  see  that  she  has  a  distinct  person- 
ality of  her  own  to  the  making  of  which  thousands 
of  years  have  contributed — years  of  social  and 
political  change,  of  geographic  separateness,  of  sun 
and  wind  and  rain  falling  upon  green  growing 
things — thousands  of  years  of  the  spirit  of  place 
working  among  men  and  women  and  creating  an 
inheritance  of  personality  and  sentiment  for  the 
children  of  even  the  latest  comers  to  the  land. 

Take  the  case  of  India  again.  Imperialists  tell 
us  of  India,  as  Metternich  used  to  say  of  Italy,  that 
it  is  a  mere  "geographical  expression."  Thousands 
of  authentic  Indian  voices,  on  the  other  hand,  rise 
in  every  corner  of  the  country  to  call  India  their 
motherland — in  other  words,  to  prove  in  the  most 
effectual  way  possible  that  India  is  a  unit  of 
national  consciousness.  Indian  Nationalism  is  an 
obvious  fact  to  everybody  except  the  people  who 
think  they  can  explain  away  all  the  great  events 
since  the  Flood  by  saying  that  they  are  the  work 
of  paid  agitators;  and  the  reality  of  Indian  Nation- 
alism is  sufficient  proof  of  the  reality  of  the  Indian 
nation.  It  is,  of  course,  part  of  an  unscrupulous 
Imperialist  policy  to  deny  the  Indian  nation — to  say 
to  the  Indians,  "  You  are  divided  into  Hindu  and 
Mahometan,  into  Mahratta  and  Punjaubee,  into  all 
sorts  of  races  and  religions.  It  is  your  want  of 
unity  which  compels  England  to  go  in  and  man- 
age your  affairs  for  you.  You  would  only  quarrel 
and  kill  each  other  if  you  were  left  to  yourselves." 

149 


ON  NATIONALISM  AND  NATIONALITY 

One  would  set  more  store  by  the  conclusion  of 
the  Imperialist  if  one  did  not  know  that  with  him 
the  wish  is  here  father  to  the  thought.  "  Divide 
that  you  may  govern,"  is  an  old  settled  principle  of 
Imperial  policy,  and  subject  peoples  are  kept  subject 
only  by  a  constant  excitement  of  all  their  worst 
passions  in  a  way  that  recalls  the  degradation,  with- 
out the  heroism,  of  civil  war.  "  But  the  worst  of 
this  is,"  said  Archbishop  Boulter,  Primate  of  Ireland, 
when  oppression  was  drawing  Irishmen  together  in 
the  eighteenth  century,  "that  it  tends  to  unite 
Protestant  with  Papist,  and  whenever  that  happens 
good-bye  to  the  English  interest  in  Ireland  for 
ever."  In  other  words,  in  order  to  further  an 
Imperial  policy,  Ireland  was  to  be  kept,  like  India, 
"a  geographical  expression,"  a  scene  of  civil  hatreds, 
and  to  be  prevented  by  hook  or  by  crook  from 
becoming  a  nation,  in  which  men  of  opposite  creeds 
would  agree  to  differ  and  would  collaborate  on  com- 
mon days  in  striving  for  the  welfare  of  their  country. 
Imperialism  is  surely  the  meanest  and  most  dis- 
honourable creed  that  ever  deluded  thousands  of 
decent  men  and  women. 

One  may  meet  the  Imperialist  half-way,  however, 
and  admit  to  some  extent  the  "  geographical  expres- 
sion "  argument.  Grant,  for  instance,  that  Italy 
was  once  a  "  geographical  expression."  The  ques- 
tion that  immediately  arises  is :  "  Does  the  Imper- 
ialist hold  it  would  have  been  better  for  Italy  to 
have  remained  so  and  never  to  have  awakened  into 
nationhood  ?  "  If  he  thinks  that  it  is  better  to  be 
a  geographical  expression  than  a  free  nation,  why 
does  he  (supposing,  for  instance,  he  is  an  English- 
man) recoil  from  the  thought  of  the  subjection  of 
England  to  some  foreign  Power?  And,  if  it  is 
better  to  be  a  nation  than  a  geographical  expression, 
then  surely  he  is  bound  to  aid  Poland,  India,  Persia, 
Egypt,  Ireland,  and  all  other  trammelled  peoples, 

150 


ON  NATIONALISM  AND  NATIONALITY 

as  far  as  in  him  lies,  in  their  struggle  for  a  place 
among  the  free  nations.  Every  nation  begins  by 
being  a  geographical  expression.  Nationalism  is 
always  a  movement,  first,  to  give  the  geographical 
expression  a  soul,  and,  next,  to  give  the  soul  a 
chance  of  expressing  the  best  and  most  vital 
that  is  in  it.  The  only  condition  upon  which  we 
can  have  what  Mazzini  finely  called  the  "  Holy 
Alliance  of  the  Peoples "  is  that  all  the  peoples 
shall  be  free  and  equal,  each  living  according  to 
its  own  conscience  and  its  own  idea  of  civilization. 

In  order  to  live  according  to  its  own  conscience, 
a  nation  has  often  to  rid  itself  of  foreign  domina- 
tion in  its  government,  or  in  its  finance,  or  in  its 
industries,  or  in  its  intellectual  life  ;  for  a  foreign 
tyranny  is  usually  more  deadening  to  the  soul  of 
a  people  than  even  the  worst  home  tyranny.  Thus, 
Nationalism  is  in  one  respect  a  protest  against  the 
domination  of  foreigners:  which  seems  to  many 
people  to  be  a  narrow  business.  Nationalism,  on 
the  other  hand,  is  equally  a  protest  against  the  sub- 
jection of  foreigners  :  it  is  as  wide  and  humane  as 
the  hatred  of  slavery.  It  stands  for  universal  rights, 
and  makes  for  understanding,  not  misunderstanding, 
between  nation  and  nation,  for  the  nations  can  only 
speak  to  each  other  with  understanding  when  each 
is  free  and  respects  the  freedom  of  its  neighbour. 
Thus,  Nationalism  is  the  necessary  complement  of 
Internationalism.  Either  without  the  other  becomes 
perverted  and  inhuman,  and  is  a  denial  of  great 
spiritual  principles.  The  true  Nationalist  is  he  who 
aims  at  universal  peace  and  brotherhood  through 
universal  liberty.  He  therefore  believes  that  the 
dominant  peoples  stand  to  gain  no  less  than  the 
subject  peoples  from  the  spread  of  the  national  idea. 
He  holds  that  if,  for  instance,  the  English  nation 
were  substituted  for  the  British  Empire,  there  would 
be  fewer  possibilities  of  wars,  and  that  the  English 


ON  NATIONALISM  AND  NATIONALITY 

people  would  make  for  themselves  a  fuller,  freer, 
happier  and  more  imaginative  civilization.  That, 
however,  is  a  point  upon  which  I  have  no  time  just 
now  to  dwell.  Mr.  Chesterton  is  one  of  the  few 
writers  who  have  emphasized  this  very  necessary 
side  of  the  Nationalist  theory.  Perhaps  he  will  one 
day  give  us  a  book  on  the  necessity  of  Nationalism 
as  a  political  principle,  no  less  for  the  nations  that 
are  at  present  swollen  into  empires  than  for  the 
nations  that  have  dwindled  into  geographical  expres- 
sions. 


152 


THE  SPIRIT  OF  MAN 

One  effect  of  the  Russian  Revolution  has  been 
to  revive  the  faith  of  vast  multitudes  of  people  in  the 
spirit  of  man.  Mr.  Robert  Bridges  some  time  ago 
compiled  an  anthology  in  honour  of  the  spirit  of 
man  and  its  soarings.  But  the  Russian  Revolution 
has  touched  the  imagination  of  thousands  on  whom 
Mr.  Bridges'  selections  from  the  world's  literature 
have  no  effect  beyond  that  of  airy  eloquence.  In 
the  Russian  Revolution  they  see  the  achievement  of 
the  almost  impossible.  They  had  grown  as  sceptical 
in  regard  to  the  success  of  revolutions — especially  in 
Russia — as  the  Pope's  Legate  in  A  Soul's  Tragedy 
with  his  mocking  comment :  "  I  have  known  four- 
and-twenty  leaders  of  revolts."  And  it  was  not  only 
in  regard  to  revolutions  that  many  people  had 
recently  been  growing  sceptical.  The  first  idealism 
in  which  the  war  had  been  begun  had  lost  most  of 
its  brightness  like  a  three-year-old  penny,  and  a 
prosaic  and  doubting  dullness  had  taken  its  place  in 
the  minds  of  thousands  who  in  1914  were  the  most 
magnificent  spendthrifts  of  words  like  "  freedom," 
"humanity,"  and  "national  honour."  Men  who  at 
that  time  desired  to  rebuild  the  world  had  relapsed 
into  the  dingdong  of  commonplace  existence,  and 
would  have  been  well  enough  content  to  defeat 
the  Germans  and  leave  the  rebuilding  of  the  world 
to  those  who  (in,  say,  a  thousand  years'  time) 
may  have  more  leisure  on  their  hands.  It  was  a 
natural  reaction.  The  secret  of  perpetual  idealism 
has  not  been  discovered  any  more  than  the  secret 
of  perpetual  motion.  It  is  never  likely  to  be  dis- 
covered while  newspapers  outshriek  each  other  in 

153 


THE  SPIRIT  OF  MAN 

a  manner  that  debases  an  atmosphere  richer  than 
Homer  in  disinterested  heroism  to  the  level  of  a 
squabble  of  drunken  costers.  The  perversion  of  the 
issues  of  the  war  by  the  sensational  Press  has  made 
ideals  seem  nothing  but  platitudes  spoken  with  the 
tongue  in  the  cheek  and  an  air  as  of  "  I  don't  think  ! " 
But  it  is  not  only  the  Press  that  is  to  blame  for 
so  great  a  part  of  the  public's  having  fallen  back  into 
the  habit  of  jog-trot  and  commonplace  aims.  The 
limitations  of  human  nature  itself  are  the  chief 
culprits.  Human  nature  in  the  Allied  countries 
began  the  war  prepared  for  a  brief  and  glorious 
flight.  It  found  itself  expected  to  remain  at  exalted 
levels  over  Christmas,  then  over  a  second  Christmas, 
then  over  a  third  Christmas.  It  realized  that  it  was 
impossible  to  stay  so  far  above  the  ground  for  so 
long.  It  sank  with  exhausted  wings,  and  the  war 
ultimately  became  a  custom  rather  than  an  inspira- 
tion. Apart  from  this,  a  feeling  of  human  helpless- 
ness was  common.  Pessimism  had  in  many  people 
restored  to  life  the  theory  that  human  beings  were 
being  used  by  a  blind  fate  in  a  futile  quarrel  that 
would  leave  everything  almost  exactly  where  it  had 
been  before  except  for  some  millions  of  mourners. 
"The  more  it  changes,  the  more  it  is  the  same," 
they  quoted,  and  sat  down  to  rest  in  sad  arm-chairs 
above  the  battle.  They  recalled  the  fact  that  Pitt 
had  made  war  on  the  French  Revolution  with  as 
fine  phrases  as  those  with  which  Mr.  Asquith  made 
war  on  Prussia.  They  forgot  that,  while  Pitt  had 
made  war  on  armed  opinions  that  were  for  the  most 
part  right,  the  England  of  Mr.  Asquith's  time  had 
made  war  on  armed  opinions  that  were  devilishly 
wrong.  They  saw  in  the  present  as  in  the  Napo- 
leonic War  only  the  drifting  of  helpless  millions  of 
atoms  into  collision.  They  recalled  Mr.  Hardy's 
picture  in  The  Dynasts  of  monstrous  armies  advanc- 
ing to  the  attack  like  legions  of  cheesemites.  They 


THE   SPIRIT  OF   MAN 

told  themselves  that  another  Mr.  Hardy  a  hundred 
years  hence  would  see  the  present  conflict  in  the 
same  terms  of  infinite  littleness.  The  spirit  of  man 
seemed  to  them  a  decided  failure,  incapable  of  self- 
direction,  a  doomed  and  homeless  wanderer,  hurried 
nowhere  in  particular  like  dust  in  the  wind. 

Most  of  us,  to  tell  the  truth,  look  at  human  nature 
through  the  different  ends  of  the  telescope  by  turns. 
Now  we  marvel  at  its  infinite  smallness;  the  next 
day  we  are  amazed  by  its  immensity,  as  of  a  god 
come  down  to  earth.  There  is  no  doubt  that  the 
reading  of  history  makes  the  philosophical  exceed- 
ingly sensible  of  the  littleness  of  man.  What 
reputable  cause  of  war,  they  ask,  had  Athens  and 
Sparta,  or  Carthage  and  Rome,  or  England  and 
France  ?  They  reduce  the  very  Crusades  to  adven- 
tures in  pursuit  of  gain,  and  from  Julius  Caesar  to 
Louis  Quatorze  they  see  the  lust  of  power  wasting 
the  lives  of  simple  people  for  greedy  ends.  This, 
however,  is  too  easy  an  interpretation  of  history. 
After  all,  even  if  the  lust  for  power  marches  through 
history  as  the  principal  character,  the  challenge  to 
the  lust  for  power  also  rings  out  triumphantly  with 
splendid  iteration.  No  doubt,  as  one  manifestation 
of  the  lust  for  power  is  defeated,  another  rises  in  its 
place.  The  defender  of  liberty  in  one  generation 
may  be  the  attacker  of  liberty  in  the  next.  At  the 
same  time  in  spite  of  the  ebb  and  flow  in  human 
affairs,  it  is  difficult  to  believe,  after  reading  history, 
that  the  sway  of  human  progress  is  perfectly  symbol- 
ized by  the  sway  of  the  sea.  One  simply  cannot 
admit  that  no  real  progress  has  been  made  from  the 
beastliness  of  primitive  man.  The  true  image  of  the 
spirit  of  man  is  not  the  coming  aud  going  of  the 
tide,  but  a  builder.  Its  great  aim  is  to  build  some- 
thing permanent — a  civilization,  a  church,  a  poem. 
Its  history  is  to  some  extent  a  history  of  failures. 
But  amid  a  wilderness  of  failures  suddenly  we  come 


THE   SPIRIT    OF   MAN 

in  full  view  of  one  of  its  master  achievements.  Out 
of  a  tangle  of  meaningless  centuries  of  war  emerges 
the  Roman  sense  of  order.  Amid  the  base  ambi- 
tions of  a  long  line  of  kings,  the  French  ideal  of 
manners  slowly  comes  into  being,  a  gift  to  the  world. 
The  English  passion  for  personal  liberty — a  passion 
much  counterfeited  in  the  nineteenth  century  and 
much  derided  in  this — is  mainly  the  gift  of  men 
who,  if  looked  at  through  the  belittling  end  of  the 
telescope,  appear  egotists  and  brawlers.  There  is  a 
good  deal  to  be  said  for  disparaging  most  of  the 
people  one  meets  in  history,  as  there  is  apparently — 
for  nearly  every  everybody  does  it — a  good  deal  to 
be  said  for  disparaging  the  people  one  meets  in 
ordinary  life.  But  this  is  quite  consistent  with  a 
never-ending  amazement  at  the  noble  inheritance 
bequeathed  to  us  by  the  creative  human  spirit.  One 
may  find  good  reasons  for  disbelieving  in  every 
individual  leader  in  the  French  Revolution — there 
are  certainly  few  whom  one  regards  with  affection 
— but  it  is  a  sort  of  political  infidelity  to  disbelieve 
in  the  resurrection  of  human  nature  which  the  spirit 
behind  the  French  Revolution  brought  about. 

One  has  no  more  right  to  be  disappointed  in 
history  than  in  humanity.  The  very  young  have 
some  right  to  be  disappointed  in  both.  But  none 
of  the  rest  of  us  has  the  right,  unless  we  cling  to 
happy  illusions  about  the  immediate  perfectibility 
of  human  nature.  There  is  a  time  in  the  life  of  an 
imaginative  young  man  when  he  accepts  "The 
world's  great  age  begins  anew  "  as  the  only  creed 
fit  for  a  spring  morning.  He  believes  he  is  just  on 
the  eve  of  the  great  social  revolution  which  is  to 
settle  everything.  Human  nature,  he  tells  himself, 
has  only  to  have  the  case  for  Utopia  laid  before  it 
with  passion  and  understanding  in  order  to  insist  on 
beginning  on  the  foundations  of  it  with  the  next 
sunrise.  It  is  a  view  which  is  impossible,  in  a  sense, 


THE   SPIRIT  OF   MAN 

to  men  of  experience,  but  none  the  less  there  is  a 
fundamental  truth  in  it  which   men  of  experience 
usually  ignore.     Here  at  least  we  have  a  recognition 
of  the  almost  immeasurable  scope   of  the   human 
spirit.     Here  is   the   assertion   of  the   adventurers 
that  there  is  no  North  Pole  too  difficult  to  be  dis- 
covered— no  problem  so  desperate  that  it  must  be 
abandoned  as   insoluble.      The   uttermost   faith  in 
human  nature  has  far  more  kinship  with  truth  than 
the  uttermost  distrust  in  human  nature.     Yet  the  old 
men  still  go  on  shaking  their  heads  and  regarding 
a  headshake  as  the  last  gesture  of  wisdom.     Expe- 
rience with  many  people  means  little  more  than  a 
hardening    of  the   arteries.     These  people    find   it 
difficult  to  believe  that  a  better  world  will  ever  exist 
than  the  England  of  the  day  before  yesterday,  that 
a  better  poet  will  ever  exist  than  Shakespeare,  that 
a  better  sculptor  will  ever  exist  than  Pheidias.    They 
regard  the  spirit  of  man — which  built  the  Pyramids 
and  the  Parthenon  and  the  Cathedral  of  Amiens, 
which  created  the  Greek  city-state  and  the  Roman 
civilization  and  the  French  Revolution — as  having 
sunk  into  a  middle-age  content  with  moderate  aims 
like  themselves.     The  fires  of  the  world,  they  think, 
are  burnt  out,  and  humanity  will  cease  to  hurl  itself 
wastefully  against  the  brazen  walls  of  the  impossible. 
At  least,  so  -they  thought  till  the  war  broke  out  and 
disturbed  them  with  a  sense  of  mightier,  madder 
efforts  than  any  Shelleyan  dreamer  had  ever  sum- 
moned them  to  make.     And  now  comes  the  Russian 
Revolution  with  its  astonishing  renunciations  and 
ideals  to  remind  them  that  the  Shelleys  govern  the 
world  no  less  than  the  kings  and  the  countinghouses. 
Faith  in  human  nature  awakes  again,  and  even  those 
who  look  back  with  disappointment  on  the  French 
Revolution  are  looking  forward  with   hope  to  the 
Revolution  in  Russia.     They  feel  like  beginning  the 
calendar  anew  and  making  this  the  first  year  of  the 

157 


THE   SPIRIT   OF   MAN 

world.  It  was  once  said  by  an  aged  politician  that 
no  change  does  half  so  much  good  as  those  who 
advocate  it  hope,  or  half  so  much  harm  as  those  who 
oppose  it  fear.  It  is  the  lesson  of  experience,  but, 
thus  stated,  it  implies  a  certain  despair  which  would 
weaken  man's  efforts  and  enfeeble  his  dreams.  There 
is  no  need  to  anticipate  disillusion.  Events  such  as 
the  Russian  Revolution  are  quite  as  likely  to  give 
the  lie  to  our  faithlessness  as  to  our  faith.  Without 
them  we  are  apt  to  forget  that  the  spirit  of  man  can 
accomplish  wonders  in  the  present  surpassing  even 
the  wonders  of  the  past.  There  are  still  many 
people  in  Western  Europe  who  regard  so  modest  a 
proposal  as  the  abolition  of  poverty  as  mere  rainbow- 
chasing.  One  great  service  the  Russian  Revolution 
is  doing  us  is  that  it  is  diminishing  the  incredulity 
of  the  average  man  in  regard  to  the  better  future  of 
the  world.  Men  are  bringing  out  their  Utopias  from 
their  cupboards  again,  and  are  dusting  them  with  a 
look  of  satisfaction. 


158 


A     SELECTION     FROM 
MAUNSEL'S     ANNOUNCEMENTS 


40   MUSEUM   ST.,  LONDON 
50  LOWER  BAGGOT  ST.,  DUBLIN 


PADRAIC    PEARSE'S 
COLLECTED  WORKS 

Vol.  I-PLAYS,  POEMS  AND  STORIES. 
Demy  8vo.    75.  6d.  net. 

He  was  an  out-and-out  rebel  ...  a  rebel  who  was  a  poet, 
a  visionary  who  worked  not  for  prosperity,  or  even  for  political 
freedom,  bnt  for  an  idea.  Such  rebels  are  not  politicians  but 
lovers  ;  and  Pearse  was  in  love  with  Ireland.  .  .  .  The 
literature  left  by  Pearse  speaks  him  one  of  those  rare  people 
who  live  dedicated  lives  and  are  so  aflame  with  spiritual  pas- 
sion and  the  glory  of  the  vision  that  they  care  nothing  what 
happens  to  their  bodies  or  their  names.  His  literature  gives 
him  spirit  with  all  its  unworldliness,  its  purity,  its  singleness 
of  direction,  its  faith  and  its  courage. — Times  Literary  Supplement. 

His  work  is  all  in  the  last  analysis  a  passionate  statement  of  a 
mystical  creed  of  sacrificial  patriotism,  .  .  .  the  plays  and  poems 
are  on  fire  with  a  faith  which  will  affect  even  .  .  .  the  most  stern 
and  unbending  of  Unionists. — Daily  News  and  Leader. 

We  read  this  book  in  which  is  gathered  the  stories,  plays  and 
poems  of  the  dend  leader  of  the  last  Irish  rebellion,  and  we 
found  in  it  not  a  single  thought  which  is  ignoble.  Probably 
no  more  selfless  spirit  ever  broke  itself  against  the  might 
of  the  Iron  Age  than  this  man's  spirit,  which  was  lit  up  by 
love  of  children  and  country,  a  dreamer  with  his  heart  in 
the  Golden  Age.  Undoubtedly  Padraic  Pearse  was  a  powerful 
and  unique  personality,  and  the  publication  of  this  volume  in 
which  is  collected  his  best  writing  will  give  him  that  place  in 
Irish  literature  which  he  is  entitled  to  by  merit,  and  which 
would  be  justly  his  quite  apart  from  the  place  in  Irish  History 
he  has  gained  by  his  astonishing  enterprise. — The  Irish  Homestead. 

The  publication  ...  of  the  literary  works  of  the  leaders  of  the 
Irish  Insurrection  has  helped  us  more  than  mighthavebeenexpected 
to  understand  the  motives  and  hopes  which  lay  behind  their  action. 

There  can  be  no  qnestion,  after  this  book  of  his  writings  of  the 
sincerity  and  intensity  of  his  love  for  Ireland,  or  of  the  fact  that 
his  life  was  seriously  devoted  to  one  end.  The  plays  and  poems 
should  convince  the  reader,  more  than  anything  hitherto  published, 
that  the  contention  is  right  which  argues  that  an  independent  Irish 
literature  is  possible. — Westminster  Gazettt. 

The  best  of  the  plays  at  their  best  are  exquisitely  beautiful  ; 
a  delicate  simplicity  of  phrase,  .  .  .  and  a  curious  and  haunting 
athmosphere  of  suppressed  excitement  and  eager  anticipation 
making  them  little  gems  of  art. — Pall  Mall  Gazette. 


P ADR  A  1C  PEARSE  (continued). 

Here  then  is  a  book  which  a  considerable  number  of  human 
beings  already  regard  as  a  holy  book,  because  a  man  died  for 
what  is  written  in  it.  ...  The  Pearse  we  find  in  the  collected 
works  is  something  more  than  an  earnest  schoolmaster.  His 
earnestness  has  now  been  intensified  into  passion.  His  faith 
has  become  exalted  into  mystciism.  His  plays  and  poems  are  pro- 
phetic of  suffering.  These  plays  and  poems  are  beautiful  with  a 
faith  in  the  destiny  of  the  poor  and  the  oppressed,  and  in  the 
power  of  self-sacrifice  to  redeem  the  travailing  world. 

— Robert  Lynd  in  The  New  Statesman. 

Vol.  II  — SONGS  OF  THE  IRISH 
REBELS,  and  Specimens  from  an  Irish 
Anthology.  Gaelic  Poems  collected  and 
translated  by  PADRAIC  PEARSE.  Demy 
8vo.  58.  net. 

The  first  part  of  this  Anthology  contains  poems  in  Gaelic  of  the 
Irish  Rebels,  collected  and  translated  into  English  by  Padraic 
Pearse.  The  second  part  is  a  collection  of  songs  of  unknown 
singers  of  the  hamlets  and  hillsides;  of  these  the  Author  writes: — 
"The  wind  of  poetry  bloweth  where  it  listeth,  and  in  Ireland 
in  these  later  years  it  has  often  blown  into  the  cottage  of  the 
peasant.  I  have  availed  myself  freely  of  the  harvests  of  other 
gleaners,  but  always  with  due  acknowledgment.  The  fact  that  a 
piece  has  been  often  published  or  translated  has  not  seemed  to  me 
justification  for  excluding  it.  The  only  question  with  which  I  have 
concerned  myself  is  the  question  of  literary  excellence.  I  will 
print  here  nothing  in  which  I  do  not  find  the  essential  wine  of 
poetry." 

THE    STORY    OF    A    SUCCESS.     An 

account  of  St.  Enda's  School  by  PADRAIC 
PEARSE,  edited  and  completed  by  DESMOND 
RYAN.  Illustrated.  35.  6d.  net. 

Padraic  Pearse  in  his  last  instructions  for  the  publication  of  his 
writings  referring  to  his  notes,  "By  Way  of  Comment"  in  AH 
Macaomh  said  :  "  they  form  a  continuous  and  more  or  less  readable 
narrative  of  St.  Enda's  College  from  its  foundation  up  to  May,  1913. 
I  should  like  my  friend  and  pupil,  Desmond  Ryan,  to  add  an 
additional  chapter  describing  the  fortunes  of  St.  Enda's  since  then, 
and  the  whole  to  be  published  in  a  book  under  his  editorship." 
The  book  is  not  only  an  account  of  St.  Enda's  but  gives  Pearse's 
educational  ideals,  and  views,  and  shows  the  very  lofty,  spiritual, 
national  and  intellectual  standard  he  set  before  his  pupils.  It 
also  throws  many  interesting  sidelights  on  his  character  and 
temperament. 


JAMES  CONNOLLY 

LABOUR  IN  IRELAND.  By  JAMES  CON- 
NOLLY, with  an  Introduction  by  ROBERT 
LYND.  45.  net.  Contains  Labour  in  Irish 
History  and  The  Reconquest  of  Ireland. 

New  and  cheaper  edition  in  2   Voh.      Wrappers, 
is.   net  each. 

James  Connolly  is  described  by  Mr.  Robert  Lynd  as  Ireland's 
first  Socialist  martyr:  "a  simple  historical  fact  that  must  be 
admitted  even  by  those  who  dispute  the  wisdom  of  his  actions 
and  the  righteousness  of  his  ideals."  When  Labour  in  Irish 
History  was  published  several  years  ago,  Connolly  was  a  man 
unknown  outside  of  labour  circles;  it  was,  however,  recognized  on 
all  sides  that  here  was  a  new  and  original  interpretation  of  the 
historical  Irish  struggle  for  self-government.  The  book  is  an 
examination  of  Irish  history  in  the  light  of  modern  Socialist  theory, 
and  is  also  a  history  of  the  militancy  of  the  Irish  poor  during  the 
last  two  centuries.  The  Reconquest  of  Ireland,  whieh  was  first 
published  in  1915  as  a  pamphlet,  describes  social  conditions  still 
prevailing  in  Ireland— "  this,"  says  Mr.  Lynd,  "is  the  prose 
Inferno  of  Irish  Poverty — and  ends  on  a  note  of  hope  for  the 
overthrow  of  the  capitalist  society,  which  was,  in  Connolly's 
opinion,  so  utterly  alien  to  the  genius  of  the  Gael." 

It  Is  only  in  Labour  in  Ireland,  by  James  Connolly,  that  we 
get  the  complete  political  testament  and  find  the  mental  traveller 
in  that  mood  of  exasperation  about  his  country,  where  we  under- 
stand how  the  next  stage  may  be  the  dropping  of  the  pen  and  the 
shouldering  of  the  rifle.  .  .  .  Labour  in  Ireland  cannot  be  over- 
looked by  any  interested  in  Irish  problems. — The  Times. 

In  Labour  in  Ireland  we  have  from  the  pen  of  James  Connolly 
a  statement  of  his  views,  but  more  than  that,  we  have  a  useful 
historical  account  of  the  development  of  Irish  economic  conditions 
From  this  point  of  view  the  book  is  valuable. — Liverpool  Courier. 

This  book  has  a  double  interest.  It  has  great  intrinsic  merit  as 
an  essay  upon  the  part  which  labour  and  capital  hare  played  in 
the  history  of  Ireland.  .  .  .  It  is  a  work  of  scientific  value,  for 
it  proves  its  facts  by  statistics  and  documents. — New  Statesman. 

We  must  refer  the  reader  to  the  book  itself  ;  it  will  well  repay 
study  by  those  who  wish  to  gain  further  light  on  one  of  our  worst 
and  most  difficult  problems. — Glasgow  Evening  News. 


IRISHMEN    OF    TO-DAY 

A  series  of  Books  dealing  with  the  work  of 
notable  Irishmen   of   to-day  and  the   Move- 
ments with  which  they  have  been  associated. 
2/6  net,  each  Volume. 

NEW    VOLUMES 
DOUGLAS    HYDE.      By      DIARMID 

O'COBHTHAITH. 

This  is  the  sixth  volume  in  Maunsel's  popular  Irishmen  of 
To-day  series.  Mr.  Diarmid  O'Cobhthaigh  gives  an  eloquent 
appreciation  of  the  activities  of  Dr.  Douglas  Hyde  both  as  a  man  of 
letters  and  propagandist  of  the  Gaelic  League.  It  is  the  book  of  an 
affectionate  admirer,  which  contains  at  the  same  time  an  able 
exposition  of  Irish  ideas.  Those  who  wish  to  obtain  a  summary  of 
the  teaching  of  the  Gaelic  League  will  find  it  here  restated  in  a 
compendious  form. 

Sir  Horace  Plunkett  and  his  Place  in 
the  Irish  Nation.  By  EDWARD  E. 
LYSAGHT. 

Mr.  Lysaght,  who  is  both  a  co-operator  and  an  advanced 
Nationalist,  seeks  in  this  book  to  interpret  Sir  Horace  Plunkett 
t«  those  of  his  countrymen  who  have  hitherto  mistrusted  or 
misunderstood  him.  We  have  no  hesitation  in  saying  that  hs 
has  succeeded  in  doing  this,  and  at  the  same  time  in  providing 
the  British  and  Irish  public  with  a  real  exposition  of  thoughtful 
Nationalism. 

"  Mr.  Lysaght,  a  practical  farmer,  and  also  a  poet  of  con 
siderable  merit,  writes  well.     .     .     .     He  is  more  concerned  to 
discuss  Irish  policy  in  a  serious  and  informed  spirit   than   to 
ventilate   his   own   individual   opinions." — The    Times   Literary 
Supplement. 

"  Mr.  Lysaght  is  an  Irishman  of  parts.  He  is  a  poet  of  country 
life,  an  active  Nationalist  of  the  modern  school,  an  Irish  speaker, 
an  economist,  and  a  practising  co-operative  agriculturist.  His 
versatility  fits  him  well  to  write  the  new  volume  in  Messrs. 

Maunsel's  series  of  Notable  Irishmen  of  To-day " — 

Daily  News  and  Leader. 

"  .  .  .  .  Mr.  Lysaght's  intimate  and  delicate  appreciation 
oi  a  new  Ireland  .  .  .  ." — Ntw  Statesman. 


THE  NATIONAL  BEING.  Some  Thoughts 
on  an  Irish  Polity.  By  JE.  Crown  8vo. 
45.  6d.  net. 

"  Stands  out  among  the  innumerable  social  books  that  stream 
from  the  presses  like  a  gentle  giant  among  a  crowd  of 
clamouring  pigmies." — Time*. 

"  Breathes  a  note  of  confidence,  of  hope  triumphant  and 
undismayed,  of  spiritual  adventure  and  high  courage  that  only 
the  ears  of  youth  can  catch.  XL's  message  is  not  to  the 
politicians  of  to-day,  but  to  the  future  nation-builders  of  Ireland." 
— Athcnteum. 

"  This  very  nobly  written  book." — The  Observer. 

"  Commands  respect  as  an  expression  of  the  aspirations  of  a 
true  friend  of  Ireland,  and  an  indefatigable  worker  in  the  one 
field  in  which  a  constructive  and  reconciling  policy  has  been 
carried  to  a  successful  issue  in  that  country." — The  Spectator. 

"  A  great  book  for  Ireland,  and  for  the  socialist  movement." 
— Labour  Leader. 

"  This  book  .  .  .  will  be  hailed  by  future  generations  as  a 
landmark  in  the  arid  wastes  of  speculations  on  Irish  problems." 
— Northern  Whig. 

AN  IRISH  APOLOGIA.  Some  Thoughts 
on  Anglo-Irish  relations  and  the  war. 
By  WARRE  B.  WELLS.  Cloth  as.  net ; 
paper,  is.  net 

There  is  nothing  rarer  in  literature  than  a  dispassionate  study 
of  contemporary  political  feeling.  Mr.  Wells  writes  as  an  English- 
man in  Ireland,  explaining  Irish  Nationalism  to  his  countrymen, 
and  he  does  it  with  sympathy,  insight  and  intelligence. — The  Irish 
Homestead. 

MY  LITTLE  FARM.  By  "PAT,"  Author 
of  "  Economics  for  Irishmen  "  and  the 
Sorrows  of  Ireland."  Wrappers,  is.  net. 

An  account  of  farming  experiences  and  food  production  in  the 
West  of  Ireland  by  one  who  is  both  a  practical  farmer  and  an 
established  reader  of  letters. 


UC  SOUTHERN  REGIONAL  LIBRARY  FACILITY 


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